The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed on Wednesday that Indian athletes participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will be required to compete under the Olympic flag rather than the flag of their home country. Also, in the event one of those athletes wins a gold medal, the Olympic anthem will be played instead of India’s anthem.
The punishment is due to longstanding friction between the IOC and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). As we’ve covered before, the IOC threatened to expel the IOA from international competition after two corrupt officials were elected to high-ranking positions within the organization. Although the IOA eventually acquiesced to the IOC’s demands regarding constitutional amendments and new elections, the IOC held firm and said that Indian athletes would be required to compete under the Olympic flag in Sochi because the new IOA elections would not be held before the opening ceremonies on February 7 (the elections were scheduled for February 9). India’s Sports Ministry put forward a proposal to hold the elections earlier in order to accommodate the IOC’s demands, but that idea was struck down by the IOA, setting the athletes’ fates in stone.
Speaking with Mail Today, Indian luge competitor Shiva Keshava called the situation shameful:
It is a sad and embarrassing situation that Indian sport has been put in.
People around the world know about the failure of our systems and about corruption and bad governance in sports.
The essence of the Olympic Games is to ‘represent’ and I feel it is shameful and pathetic for all of us Indians that athletes may not walk under the Indian flag.
How does an athlete, after putting in years of hard work in training for the Olympics, motivate himself after he is denied an opportunity to represent his own country? (Inside the Games)
Three other athletes besides Keshavan — skiers Hira Lal, Himanshu Thakur, and Nadeem Iqbal — will compete for India at the Sochi Games.
[Source: Inside the Games]