By Jill Lawless
The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — A mysterious woman in red has caused an international incident at the London Olympics.
Indian officials are mystified — and miffed — after an unknown young woman managed to march with the country’s athletes and officials during the opening ceremony Friday night.
Organizers on Sunday downplayed security concerns around the unscripted moment, saying the interloper was a ceremony cast member and had been screened before entering the Olympic Park.
Images from Friday’s ceremony showed a young woman in turquoise jeans and a red jacket marching alongside Indian flag bearer Sushil Kumar at the head of the delegation of 40 athletes in bright yellow and navy blue.
“How can a person without any accreditation walk past [security]?” Indian press attaché Harpal Singh Bedi said.
Indian officials said they had no idea who the woman was. The country’s Deccan Chronicle newspaper said she was likely Madhura Nagendra, a graduate student from the southern city of Bangalore who had been living in London.
The newspaper said she had displayed her Olympic passes on her Facebook page, which used the name Madhura Honey. It said the page was later deactivated.
The case of the ceremony’s mystery woman dominated Indian media’s coverage of the opening of the games.
“Who’s That Girl?” asked the front page of The Hindustan Times.
“Leaky London: Unaccounted presence in march past,” said a headline in the Times of India. The newspaper said the mystery woman had “brazenly gatecrashed the party, raising security concerns and adding to the anger over India’s blink-and-miss appearance on global TV screens.”
Bedi said India’s acting chef de mission, P.K.M. Raja, had sent the organizers an official letter of complaint about the intrusion.
But London organizing chief Sebastian Coe insisted the woman had not posed a threat to the ceremony. He told reporters she was “a cast member who clearly got slightly over excited.”
Coe stressed the woman had been screened to get into the Olympic Stadium, so there had been no security breach.
“Don’t run away with the idea that she walked in off the street,” Coe said.
Coe said games officials “will have our own discussions” about the incident. (end)
Associated Press Writer Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi contributed to this report.