New Delhi: Referred to as the most trouble-plagued Commonwealth Games ever, all eyes are now on India to see if the sporting event will progress smoothly.
Despite facing a lot of flak for its poor preparations leading up to the Games, the Delhi government has reportedly begun pitching for a possible Olympics bid.
The authorities are congratulating themselves even before the grand opening ceremony promised by Suresh Kalmadi, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, this evening.
The two-hour ceremony will start with President Pratibha Patil and Britain's Prince Charles declaring the Games open.
Tennis sensation Sania Mirza will not be part of the 619-member strong Indian contingent, but badminton star Saina Nehwal, Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist boxer Vijender Kumar and wrestler Sushil Kumar will carry the baton during the ceremony.
The Indian Home Ministry is taking no chances with security. New Delhi is under a security lockdown with an estimated 100,000 police and military personnel deployed to keep the athletes, visitors and Games venues safe.
Ever since foreign governments issued travel advisories highlighting a risk of terror attacks in India during the Games, Home Minister P. Chidambaram has stepped up efforts to plug security loopholes.
Police said security will be extra tight for the opening and closing ceremonies. The Delhi government has used special powers under the Delhi Shops and Establishment Act 1954, to order a shutdown of shops and markets on the opening and closing days.
This means that all shops and commercial establishments, including grocery stores and shopping malls, will remain closed today and on October 14.
According to reports, more than 5,800 athletes and officials have already arrived in Delhi.
"With more arrivals scheduled in the coming days, the Games are well on the way to becoming the biggest in history," Lalit Bhanot, Secretary-General of the Organising Committee, said.
The fact that several stars have opted out has failed to deter the organisers, who maintain that more than 6,700 athletes and officials have confirmed their participation in the Games.
The Delhi government and the Organising Committee have faced heavy criticism for the inordinate delays, collapsing infrastructure and petty disputes among agencies.
The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony will kick off at 5.30pm (UAE time) on Sunday.
The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony will be telecast live on DD Sports at 5.30pm (UAE time).