Moscow/ Sochi : India faced the shame of witnessing three of its athletes march without the national flag during the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics on Friday night.
Things came to such a sorry pass because of a simmering row between the International Olympic Committee and the Indian Olympic Association over ethical and administrative issues, with the latter accusing the former of failure to comply with the Olympic charter.
The unsavoury outcome is that India stands suspended from the Olympic movement since December 2012 and Indian athletes cannot participate in international events under the Tricolour.
With India ‘ out’ of the Olympics, luger Shiva Keshavan, Alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross- country skier Nadeem Iqbal had to walk behind the Olympic flag.
The three Indians will now compete under the ” independent athletes” category. An ‘ independent athlete’ is technically one who has qualified for the Olympics but whose “ nations have been dissolved or new nations have emerged INDIA’S WALK
due to political transition, or international sanctions have left athletes without a formal nation or NOC.” It was an embarrassing situation for India as billions of people all over the world had tuned in to witness the opening ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.
Incidentally, the Indian Olympic Association will hold its elections on Sunday – – these elections have been a bone of contention with the IOC, which claims they are rigged. India could have easily advanced the elections by just a few days so that the embarrassment was avoided at Sochi. India will now return to the Olympic fold only after the IOC is satisfied with the way Sunday’s elections are conducted.
Meanwhile, senior Russian officials have reportedly insisted that the security fears around the Winter Olympics are unfounded, with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak saying that the level of danger in Sochi is same as in Boston, London, New ork or Washington.
The US Department of Homeland Security warned earlier this week that terrorists could be trying to smuggle explosives on board flights bound for Sochi in toothpaste containers, while several teams have reported receiving unspecified terrorist threats.
Islamist militants have vowed to attack the Games using ‘ maximum force’ as they are being held right on the verge of Russia’s most volatile region — the North Caucasus — the heart of an Islamist insurgency.