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Rio Opening Ceremony: Saris and the Blazers fail to impress

The attire worn by the Indian athletes at the opening ceremony was less than impressive

The Indian contingent at the 2008 Olympics

I anxiously waited for the Indian Contingent to march at the Olympic Games opening ceremony hoping the Indian athletes would shine bright in our traditional attire. As much as the opening ceremony and the lighting of the cauldron impressed me, the Saris and the blazers of the Indian contingent only brought disappointment.

8 years ago in Beijing, I was the only female Indian athlete to wear the sari. The IOA provided us with the attire for the opening ceremony - saris for women and Sherwanis for men. They did not have rules around the uniform and thus many other women athletes chose to wear track suits. The men looked stunning in the white Sherwanis. The Indian contingent was dressed in different uniforms. The media criticized, but the lesson was learnt.

4 years ago in London, as the Indian contingent marched, the women were clad in beautiful yellow saris. Men looked fabulous in suits with the yellow turban on. The turban complimented well with the yellow saris of the women. At London, the Indian contingent looked stunning.

India Olympics 2012
Wrestler Sushil Kumar led the Indian athletes at London 2012

Last night, when the world turned its eyes again for the march of nations at the Maracana stadium at Rio, I was highly disappointed as the Indian Olympic contingent made its appearance. The men walked in blazers and pants. The women wore blazers on top of the not so impressive Ombre design printed saree – Chanderi fabric shaded with marigold yellow and indigo blue, with a khari block print border.

India Olympics 2016
The Indian contingent marching at the opening ceremony

For men: The Dark Blue blazers sans the turbans was not even close to representing India or Indian tradition and culture in any from (except for the IOA logo).

For Women: The color combination for the Sari had no cultural significance. The colours were dull and did not represent the radiance of the Tricolor. To make things worse, the blazer overshadowed the little cultural significance the sari brings to India.

India Olympics 2016
The 2016 Indian Olympics attire has been criticised by many

The designer studio Study By Janak was given the task to dress the Indian contingent up and they definitely failed at it.

But, on the brighter note, the uniformity of the attire along with the enthusiasm and smiles on the faces of the athletes, like always, stole my heart away.

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is a stage where the entire world has an eye on you, a moment when captured becomes a life long memory to be cherished forever. You want to be the best representation of your country. Keeping that in mind, the IOA must do better for Tokyo 2020.


Neha Aggarwal is a table tennis player who represented India at the 2008 Summer Olympics.


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