There were three Indian athletes in view during the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics last night, but the beautiful tri-colour was nowhere to be seen as the athletes marched under the International Olympic Comittee(IOC) flag instead.
The suspension of the Indian Olympic Association(IOA) by the IOC for ethical and administrative reasons meant that luger Shiva Keshavan, Alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal were denied a chance to experience the pride of walking under their national flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
The Indian athletes have been forced to compete under the ‘independent athletes’ category and will be represented under the Olympic flag.
The IOA was suspended by the IOC in December 2012 due to its failure to comply with the Olympic charter. The IOC had in particular been miffed with the IOA electing officials who were facing charges of corruption. The IOC had also demanded that India’s sports ministry stop meddling in the affairs of the IOA.
Fresh elections of the IOA are scheduled to take place, amidst all sorts of controversies, suspensions and allegations, on the 9th of February 2014, just two days after the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. If the IOA had scheduled the elections on or before 7th February, the day of the opening ceremony, the Indian athletes at Sochi would have got the privilege of competing under the Indian flag.
Instead, for the first time, a nation of over 1.2 billion people will officially not have a single representative at the Winter Olympics, a shameful fact that was painfully showcased to the entire world yesterday during the opening ceremony.