Delhi: JNS lacking facilities, but massive facelift on the cards

- June 24, 2024

Lack of proper washrooms for females, insufficient water coolers and worn-out track troubling athletes as the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium gears up for facelift ahead of 2025 World Para Games.

Delhi: Delhi’s iconic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, built to host the 1982 Asian Games and renovated for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is likely to get another facelift for the 2025 World Para Games, said an official of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) familiar with the development.

“The PCI in principle had a discussion with the Union sports ministry last week to host the 2025 World Para Games in Delhi,” the PCI official added.

It is for sure the JNS, as per rules and regulations of the World Para Athletics, will be renovated for the global para track and field competitions, but there are issues like lack of proper washrooms for female athletes and water coolers that need to be addressed immediately, one of the weightlifters regular at the JNS said.

“Compared to the number of players that are regular at the JNS, the facilities for drinking water are far less,” said one of the national-level athletes, before adding that one of the water coolers was installed near the main hostel only recently.

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“We have to struggle to get water for drinking particularly in summers,” the athlete added.

Apart from athletics, facilities for football, weightlifting and archery are also available at the JNS. The JNS is also the venue for Indian Super League (ISL) football matches.

The JNS under the jurisdiction of Sports Authority of India (SAI) is the main hub of athletics in NCR. There were speculations that all stadiums under Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Delhi will be rented out to private entities.

However, SAI’s plan to rent out the huge JNS complex didn’t materialise.

There are floodlights at the throwing arena and athletes can practice late in the evening, but the condition of the oval track is not good. Officially the main track which was renovated in 2021 was not open to public due to technical problems.

“Despite renovation, the surface was uneven and technically not suitable to conduct a national level track and field competition,” an athletics coach said on condition of anonymity.

The facilities at JNS should be better, said a parent whose teenage daughter comes to JNS for practice.

“The washrooms for female players are not maintained,” the parent added. “The SAI should look into the matter.”

The athletes don’t complain for fear of backlash from SAI. Under the come-and-play scheme, the athletes pay a nominal annual fee of Rs 100 and make use of the track and field facilities.

“If we complain about the facility at JNS, we will be targeted and not allowed to practice. So, it is better to manage,” said one of the national level athletes.

Sandip Pradhan, SAI’s Director General didn’t respond to text message on the renovation and facilities at the JNS.

To conduct the 2025 Para World Athletics, there needs to be massive renovation, an international para athlete said.

“There should be proper ramps for wheelchair athletes and washrooms too,” added the athlete.

The cost of relaying the 400m synthetic track would be around Rs six crores.

Legacy of CWG

The JNS complex was part of Delhi’s 2010 Commonwealth Games legacy.

The eight-lane 400-metre main track at JNS was renovated during Covid-19 pandemic. Before it could be opened to public, a portion of the newly-laid track was damaged.

The renovation work started before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The athletes, however, have started using the facility.

“The warm-up track adjoining the main track is not good for training. So the alternative place to practice is the main track,” said a senior athlete.

A big portion of the track near the 250m mark of the 400m oval got damaged due to faulty base-work but was later repaired, an athletics coach said.

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The JNS saw massive renovation in preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Both the main track and warm-up track were re-laid. The stadium was also the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

“The warm-up track is more than 14 years old and should be changed,” added a senior athletics coach.

Last year, SAI in coordination with PCI organised the first Khelo India Para Games at JNS.

Recently, the Delhi State Athletics meet was conducted on the worn-out warm up track. “The main 400m track was repaired for the conduct of Khelo India Para Games,” said one of the PCI officials.