Vinisha Umashankar was nominated to carry the Baton by the University of Birmingham ©Getty Images

Concerns over COVID-19 in Ahmedabad have caused organisers of the Queen's Baton Relay to cancel a planned visit to the city as the Baton touched down in India for a four-day stay.

After a day in Delhi, it was to have been taken to Ahmedabad on Thursday, but will instead head for Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar on Saturday (January 15) before moving on to Singapore.

It was received at Indira Gandhi International Airport by Rakesh Gupta, Queen's Baton Committee chairman for India.

Delhi, which held the Commonwealth Games in 2010, is the first previous host city to welcome the Baton on its international journey to Birmingham.

Its arrival held special significance for University of Birmingham Chancellor Lord Karan Bilimoria.

"Sport is a unifying force, and we are marking the Queen's Baton Relay's visit to India with events that address key issues affecting people in India and beyond," Lord Bilimoria said.

"I look forward to welcoming friends old and new to these exciting events as we look to improve the lives of Indian citizens."

The University of Birmingham is a sponsor of the Baton and has selected 14-year-old inventor and environmentalist Vinisha Umashankar as a "changemaker" and Batonbearer in India.

She was a speaker at COP26 and has devised the "Iron Max", an ironing cart powered by solar panels instead of charcoal, to reduce pollution.

Delhi is the first past host city to feature on the Baton's route ©Getty Images
Delhi is the first past host city to feature on the Baton's route ©Getty Images

"I like using science and technology to look at things in a different way," Umashankar said.

"I'd love to become a scientist and invent useful products that improve people's living standards. 

"Being the University of Birmingham's Batonbearer in India is fantastic and I'd like to thank the University for this awesome opportunity."

The Baton had arrived from Bangladesh where it was the latest cause for celebration after Bangladesh’s stunning Test match victory over International Cricket Council World Test Championship winners New Zealand last week.

Every Commonwealth Games medal won by Bangladesh so far has come in the sport of shooting so it was appropriate that the Baton should be carried by air rifle shooter Abdullah Hel Baki, a medallist at the last three Games. 

He was also Bangladeshi flagbearer at the Gold Coast 2018 Opening Ceremony.

Shakil Ahmed, silver medallist in 50 metres pistol shooting at Gold Coast 2018, also carried the Baton.

General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, President of the Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA), was on hand to welcome the Baton.

"We feel really honoured that the Baton has reached us," the BOA chief said.

The Relay visited the National Martyrs' Monument, the Bangladesh Army Stadium and the national sports institute Krira Shikkha Protishtan some 28 kilometres north of Dhaka during its stay.

It also called in at the Shaheed Bir Uttam Lt. Anwar Girls’ School where pupils put on a display of gymnastics, music and dance.

In Sri Lanka the nominated changemaker was women’s rights activist Jayanthi Kuru Utumpala who in 2016 had become the first Sri Lankan to climb Mount Everest.

The Baton had arrived in Colombo where it was taken in a procession to the Commonwealth Games Association headquarters in Independence Square.

It was carried by Dinusha Hansani Gomes, who won weightlifting bronze at the 2018 Gold Coast Games. 

She did so alongside Melbourne 2006 weightlifting gold medallist Chanthana Vidanage who insisted he is targeting a medal in Birmingham when he competes in his sixth Commonwealth Games at the age of 40.

"I will attempt to win a medal there," Vidanage told The Island.

"That is my goal.

"There will be a tough competition but I am determined and am working hard to achieve that."

Roller skaters later took it the short distance to the Sri Lankan National Olympic Committee.

Runners later carried the Baton across the Victoria Dam in Kandy province.

It was also welcomed by fire-eaters and traditional dance.

There was also a visit to a tea estate at Kirkoswald nearly 1,400 metres above sea level.

Six schools in Sri Lanka were additionally linked with counterparts in England through a British Council initiative connected with the Relay. 

The Baton visited Ranabima Royal College and the School of the Deaf and Blind at Ratmalana. 

"I am filled with pride that Sri Lanka had the opportunity to host the Queen’s Baton Relay and be part of this momentous journey," Sri Lanka Commonwealth Games Association President Suresh Subramaniam said.

"Not only did it give us the opportunity to celebrate the spirit of Sri Lanka but it represents the coming together of communities across the whole of the Commonwealth."