Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Controversial defeat

L Sarita Devi’s controversial defeat at the semi-final match of the Asian Games was indeed shameful. She suffered humiliating defeat in the lightweight semifinal to South Korea’s Jina Park despite dominating the game. A tearful naïve protest followed when she refused to wear the medal offered to her at the podium. Her puffy face spoke volumes of the humiliation she suffered. This caused AIBA to take disciplinary action against her. The crowd stood by her and booed the officials for the verdict. Her husband too took a strong stand for her but nothing could convince the authorities to change their mind. What could be a moment of glory for India, turned into a moment of shame and indignation for the nation with her husband Thoiba Singh expressing his fury towards the judges and tried to resort to indiscipline means by threatening to go near the ring to join the tearful Sarita in her protest.

During the medal ceremony, she gave her medal to Park which fumed AIBA. She had to apologise unconditionally to AIBA for her ‘misbehaviour.’ The boxer certainly did that due to pressure mounting from all sides. Sarita clarified that she had done so as she did not want any other Indian boxer to suffer. However, she accepted that she felt humiliated. Reactions poured in from all sides. Indian boxing champion Mary Kom was upset with Sarita’s behaviour although she sympathized with her. She opined that what happened with Sarita was wrong but the way she reacted was also not right. If she did not attend the medal distribution ceremony, it would have been better than Sarita refusing the medal in the podium. Here I would like to say that Mary Kom and all other athletes should have handed over their medals and Indian authorities too should have taken a stand. What could be the outcome? At the most, Indian athletes could be banned from taking part in Asian games. At least, we could have retained our dignity.

Is not the disgrace of an Indian athlete the humiliation of the nation? Why unfair treatment is meted against Sarita by AIBA? Why does the International Boxing Association (AIBA) have a discriminating attitude towards sportsmen of other countries? One should ask the Korean refree where is the spirit of sportsmanship? Why resort to such unfair means? After she was subject to the discrimination, why was she subjected to yet more humiliation by being compelled to give an unconditional apology for her emotive behaviour to AIBA? Was it just to do so? Think about it.

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