India’s competitors at the Sochi Olympics will walk under the International Olympic Committee flag on Friday night, a reflection of India’s sad state of affairs at the Olympic level. With the Indian Olympic Association unable to return to the Olympic fold, Shiva Keshavan, Nadeem Iqbal and Himanshu Thakur will not have the tricolor in their hands when they participate in the opening ceremony.
“It’s a disgrace. The authorities are insensitive towards the athletes. They are not bothered who is taking part or not,” said former sprinter Ashwini Nachappa. Interestingly, the IOA is holding its elections on February 9 in a bid to return to the Olympic fold. India were suspended from the IOC in December 2012 for electing tainted officials.
Nachappa said: “We had asked the IOA to advance the elections, but nobody heard us. They are very arrogant people. But we should still be proud of our athletes.”
IOA vice-president Tarlochan Singh told on Friday afternoon that holding elections does not mean India will be “automatically” be back in the Olympic Family. “After the elections are held, the IOA will take at least a month to investigate everything. We are following IOC rules and IOA can’t be faulted. A lot of people are talking without knowing the facts.”
Singh added: “We were aware of the timing of the Sochi Games. It’s not that IOA don’t care about the athletes, but we have a democratic process and can’t rush elections. Media must know the facts before slamming IOA.”
Shooter Mansher Singh said: “There should have been a way out. The elections could have been held before. No excuse for that. The fact remains that when you see your flag in the opening ceremony, you feel like a warrior for your country. It gives you a big motivation. You get a feeling of history. It’s a great feeling and you kind of swear in your chest.”
“That lack of identity will hurt our athletes because the crowd will not be able to identify them in the opening ceremony”, added Mansher.