Spare a thought for Shiva Kesavan, Nadeem Iqbal and Himanshu Thakur. Who ? you might ask. A luger, a cross country skier and an alpine skier respectively. They are three Indians who will be at the Sochi Winter Olympics that start today. But for the next eighteen days they are not allowed to be Indians. What a shame.
This is because India is currently suspended from the Olympic movement. The Indian Olympic Association's membership of the International Olympic Committee stands suspended. IOA officials have been accused of corruption and criminal charges are pending. Yet one continues to hold his post in the IOA, which is against the Olympic charter. The IOC gave time for the IOA to hold fresh elections and reconstitute the IOA. The IOA did not do it . Consequently India stands suspended from the Olympics.
Shiva Keshavan is a five time Olympian. He will lead the contingent of three in today's opening ceremony. But they will march under the IOC flag, representing as individuals and not as Indians. The Indian flag is banned. They cannot sport the Indian emblem on their uniforms. They cannot call themselves Indians. The word India has actually become a four letter word.
"There is more politics in sports than in politics,” says sports historian K. Arumugam. Nothing could be truer. Every sports federation in India is full of politicians. Some have stayed on in their jobs for decades although they are even beyond geriatrics. Corruption and disgusting politics is endemic in Indian sport. The scum that run the IOA don't even care for the shame on the country by seeing the three Indians march under the Olympic flag - they are only interested in their own positions. If there is one field in which I am ashamed to be an Indian, this is it. And I am a sports nut, in case you didn't know.
Sure, India has no history of any sort in the Winter Olympics. For the most part, India is a hot country with no tradition of winter sport. That is what makes the achievement of Shiva, Iqbal and Thakur, all the more creditable. They shine in a sport that is utterly alien to the country. There is absolutely no money in these sports - they raise their own and thankfully the government of India came forward to help them get to Sochi. They are extremely unlikely to win anything (never say never in sport). But the fact that they have gone to Sochi makes me extremely proud of them.
Sack all the administrators of every sports organisation in India. Ban them for life from even approaching a sports field. Only an Indian who has represented India in the sport and who has held no office at all in any sports administrative body ever should be asked to run the sports organisation. As for the lot currently in the IOA, can we all collectively clear our throats and spit on them.
I cringe to be an Indian today. But during the opening ceremony march past I am going to lustily cheer with tears in the eyes for Shiva, Iqbal and Thakur.