Indian athletes march under national flag at Sochi Winter Olympics closing ceremony

Modified 24 Feb 2014
Flag bearers with the Indian tri colour

Flag bearers with the Indian tri colour

In an emotional and proud moment for the athletes representing India at the Sochi Winter Olympics, they were allowed to walk under the tri-colour at the closing ceremony of the magnificent event.

The Indian Olympic Committee (IOC) had imposed a ban on the Indian Olympic Association in December 2012 following the appointment of a corruption-tainted official as secretary general. However, subsequent to the IOA holding fresh elections on February 9 this year, the IOC decided to lift the ban on February 11, marking the first time ever that a ban had been lifted during an Olympic event.

“When the IOC lifted our ban in the midst of an Olympic event, it’s the first time it’s happened and I am truly grateful to the IOC president Thomas Bach… for having lifted the ban within two days,” newly elected Indian Olympic Association N Ramachandran had said last week.

The three Indian participants at the Games – luger Shiva Keshavan, alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal – who were forced to march under the Olympic flag as independent contestants during the opening ceremony, expressed their pride at being recognised as Indian representatives.

“It was a bad feeling at the opening ceremony because I was under the IOC flag,” Thakur said.

“It was a bad feeling because I was not representing my country. After February 11, the IOC gave us our country back because of the fresh elections. I’m proud to put the flag up (in the athletes’ village). My parents, teacher and friends are very proud. The closing ceremony, under my own flag will be nice,” he added.

“Well, it’s like coming to the Olympics all over again so this is the real one,” said veteran Keshavan.

In a dismal campaign, Keshavan finished 37th out of 39 in luge, Himanshu Thakur finished last in the men’s giant slalom, while Nadeem Iqbal finished 85th out of 87 in the 15km classic cross-country skiing.

Published 24 Feb 2014
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