The biggest ever Commonwealth Games are set to officially start amid heavy security in Delhi.

Around 100,000 security forces have been deployed in the Indian capital, and shops and businesses are to stay closed for the day.

Prince Charles is to declare the event open during a spectacular opening ceremony in the Nehru Stadium.

The Games have been bogged down by criticism over Indian's preparations for the Games.

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Around 80,000 police on duty have been reinforced by 17,000 paramilitary troops to counter the danger of an attack by extremists.

Fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships will be on standby.

Delhi's police commissioner, YS Dadwal, promised security would be "foolproof". Every police officer in Delhi was "on the job 24/7", Mr Dadwal added. "Most are working and sleeping at the police station."

The BBC's Rahul Tandon in Delhi says there are reports that beggars and some slum dwellers have been forced to leave the city for the duration of the event, but officials have denied this.

With almost 7,000 athletes and support staff from 71 countries scheduled to participate, the 19th Commonwealth Games will be the largest sporting event in India's history.

It has also become the most expensive Commonwealth Games so far, with estimates ranging up to more than $10bn (£6.3bn).

In the run-up the competition made headlines because of construction delays, corruption scandals, the collapse of a footbridge and a suspected militant attack on two foreign tourists two weeks ago.

Some competitors pulled out of the games after the accommodation in the athletes' village was described as filthy, uninhabitable and unsafe.

Games officials and thousands of people were working around the clock to ensure that the village was habitable and that the competition could start on time.

Confusion
Last week there were reports that a row had erupted over the roles of Prince Charles and Indian President Pratibha Patil in the opening ceremony.

However, a spokesperson for Prince Charles confirmed that the Prince would read out Queen Elizabeth II's baton message and declare the Games open.

Mrs Patil will the speak and say: "Let the Games begin."

Mrs Patil and the Queen launched the Queen's Baton Relay last October in a ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.

The baton - which has travelled to Commonwealth countries around the world - will arrive in the Nehru Stadium for the opening ceremony.

Singer Hariharan will perform the Games official theme song "Swagatam" at the ceremony.

Oscar winner AR Rahman, who wrote the music for the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" will also perform live.

Other details of the three-hour ceremony in the renovated stadium have been kept secret, but Indian broadcaster CNN-IBN reported that it would showcase Indian cultural traditions and include a yoga performance.

The sports programme will start with swimming events on Monday.

Source:BBC News