The woman who upset Indian athletes by gate-crashing their parade at the Olympic ceremony and walking with them was a “slightly over-excited” member of the opening event’s cast.
Members of the Indian delegation said they had been humiliated by the presence of the mystery woman, walking at the front of the country’s athletes. While India’s female athletes were dressed in yellow saris and blue blazers, the woman – identified by some Indian media as a medical student from Bangalore – was wearing a red jacket and greenish, blue trousers.
“This was bizarre. We will ask for an apology,” the acting Indian chef de mission, PKM Raja, told the Times of India newspaper. “The Indian contingent was shown [on the televised broadcast] for just 10 seconds and to think this lady hogged all the limelight.”
Mr Raja said that as the Indian contingent of 81 athletes entered the stadium, an official from the organising committee, or else a security guard, asked to walk in front of them. He said they thought the woman was also an Olympic official.
“When we entered the stadium, the woman who was walking between us and the contingent ahead of us, the Independent Olympic Athletes, suddenly came back and started walking next to Sushil Kumar, our flag-bearer,” he added. “We are totally surprised by the manner in which she joined the delegation and kept walking inside the stadium.”
On Sunday, London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe said the woman was a member of the 7,500-strong cast involved in the opening event, produced by Danny Boyle.
“She made it into the opening ceremony. She obviously should not have been there,” Lord Coe told a press conference. “I can now confirm that she was a cast member. She was slightly over excited.”
India says it has never performed at an Olympics to its true potential, but this year there has been a new sense of optimism. Among its team of 58 men and 23 women are a number of first class athletes, including the celebrated woman boxer Mary Kom. Experts say it has a realistic chance of success in at least six events, wrestling, boxing, archery, shooting, badminton and tennis.
Reports in the Indian media claimed the woman who joined the group was Madhura Honey, a medical postgraduate student from Bangalore who is currently living in London. It was reported that she had been displaying a pass to the stadium on her Facebook page but that those images have since been taken down. Efforts to confirm her identity or else reach Ms Honey were unsuccessful.
Games organisers had said they were looking into the possibility of a security breach. The run up to the event was marred by security concerns with the British government obliged to provide thousands of soldiers guard venues when private security contractor G4S announced just weeks before the opening ceremony that it had insufficient staff. A spokeswoman had said: “This is something that we are looking into.”