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Delhi commonwealth baton launched

A dancer performs at the launch of the Commonwealth Games Queen's baton relay for Delhi 2010 in London
The baton relay was launched at a colourful ceremony

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.

Message

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 3 October 2010.

The baton will travel almost 200,000 km (124,274 miles) before it reaches India.

The Queen's message will be read to the athletes at the opening ceremony.

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.

Mr Hooper rejected the charge.

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



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