30 Oct 2009

Queen's baton relay starts in London

1:18 pm on 30 October 2009

Indian President Pratibha Patil and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II have launched the baton relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi.

The Queen handed over the baton to President Patil in a colourful ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.

The ceremony was shown live on several television channels in India.

However, delays in construction work at Games venues are causing concern and Games chief Mike Fennell has said they pose a serious threat to the Games.

The baton, which contains a message to the athletes from the Queen in her role as head of the Commonwealth, will reach the Indian capital in time for the opening ceremony on October 3rd 2010.

The baton will travel almost 200,000 kilometres before it reaches India.

Fourteen athletes, including India's 1983 World Cup winning cricket captain Kapil Dev, ran with the baton around the Victoria Memorial on The Mall.

The relay run was started by shooter Abhinav Bindra, India's only Olympic Gold medallist.

The Games have been mired in controversy with concerns that construction work at many of the venues is delayed and may not be ready in time for the event.

Recently, a row broke out with Suresh Kalmadi, the head of the Delhi 2010 committee, saying that Commonwealth Games chief executive Mike Hooper was hindering their work.

Hooper, a New Zealander, rejected the charge.

Delhi has been undertaking major infrastructure work, including the installation of new metro lines, in preparation for the Games.