Indians burn effigy of Games chief executive Mike Hooper
Indian anger at the Commonwealth Games chief executive Mike Hooper has erupted into a fiery protest as the Queens Baton relay reaches New Delhi today.
Indians from the Hindu protest group Rashtrawadi Sena burned an effigy of Hooper while chanting "Hooper go home". They held up signs accusing Hooper of being a racist and of insulting the nation.
The protest occurred on the eve of the baton relay reached the headquarters of the local Commonwealth Games organising committee and before the High Court verdict on the ancient land title dispute of Ayodhya, which has prompted key Indian figures to call for a nationwide calm.
With the Games opening ceremony only four days away, the anger at continual Games chaos is being blamed on Hooper, who has spent the past two years in India overseeing the local organising committee's preparations.
Hooper, a New Zealander, is alleged to have made racist remarks about India's population being an interference for the dedicated Commonwealth Games traffic lanes, but he has been publicly supported by the CGF president Mike Fennell and many Commonwealth nations, including next Games host, Scotland.
Two days ago there were leaked reports about Hooper's lavish lifestyle in India, including six household staff and the fact that the Indian government was paying his local tax bill of around €115,500 and a chauffeured limousine.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the demonstration featured a scarecrow type figure stuffed with straw and a photo of Hooper's head placed on top of it.
"It was beaten and then set alight," the paper reported.
Since the local outcry about alleged racism, Hooper has refused to talk to the media.
A Commonwealth Games Federation spokesman said: "It is a most unfortunate matter. We think it is completely inappropriate to make personal attacks on Mr Hooper who has worked tirelessly to make these a successful Games for the athletes of the commonwealth and the people of India.
"The Commonwealth Games have a reputation for being the Friendly Games and we hope that spirit prevails over the coming fortnight."