In the end, it is a piece of metal which can lift the spirits of an entire nation and you win it only after you have defeated the rest of the world in that sport.
True, it is the athlete which plays the pivotal role. But it is also a fact that a combination of many players and many factors including infrastructure, societal support, coaching, financial support etc. go on to determine the excellence achieved by an athlete. Unfortunately, recent incidents indicate that we as a nation lag behind on most of these counts.
The Sports Minister’s meaningless intrusiveness
The Indian sports minister had earned a bad name for himself and his country when he tried to enter restricted areas at the Olympic venues along with some unaccredited individuals. It was reported by the Continental Manager for Rio 2016 Organizing Committee that he also became aggressive and rude and tried to push past the staff after being told the limitations. In fact, the behaviour was reported despite previous warnings and thus a threat of the cancellation of his accreditation was given to him if such behaviour continued.
Minister more important than the athlete
Vijay Goel, the recently appointed Sports minister of India, miffed the Indian sports fans further when he shared a pic wishing best of luck to the Indian gymnast, Dipa Karmakar. The pic had face of the minister and not the athlete which was hardly a surprise as it was evident that the minister was trying to cash-in on the historic feat of the gymnast who reached the finals of a gymnastic event in Olympics. If that was not enough, he even misspelt the name of the athlete, citing it as Karmanakar and not Karmakar which is her real name.
Goodwill ambassador shows why he isn’t fit for it
The travesty with the gymnast who has ventured in unchartered areas doesn’t end here. Earlier, the Indian goodwill ambassador for the Rio Olympics Salman Khan had referred to her as Deepika and then as Deepti in a press conference. This was when he had earlier tweeted people to support ‘Dipa Karmakar’.
Dipa Karmakar denied physiotherapist for Rio
The Sports Authority of India had earlier denied Dipa Karmakar’s request for allowing her long-time physio to accompany her to Rio as it was deemed ‘wasteful’ by them. Unsurprisingly, SAI was all praise for her after per performance on its twitter handle.
Sports Minister messes up athletes names
In yet another incident , the minister tweeted, wishing track and field athlete Srabani Nanda ahead of her event. The problem was that he had used the image of Dutee Chand, another athlete who by then was already out of competition from her event.
Officials more important than athletes
Dutee Chand is the same athlete who had earlier highlighted the appalling attitude of the officials towards the athletes. She was made to travel to Rio in economy class for a 36 hour journey without a coach because of which she could not get proper sleep or rest. This was when the same journey was made by the managerial staff in business class.
Hockey teams skip dinner for Peanuts
When the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports organized Independence Day celebrations at Indian Embassy in Rio, the players of the Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams who attended the event were only given ‘peanuts’ to eat. The irony was that the players had cancelled their dinner at the Games Village expecting a proper meal at the function. Unfortunately, even the food of the athletes is not a priority for the officials.
Important to note here is that Vijay Goel is the fifth sports minister in the last 8 years. Like in any other ministry, consistency of policy is a key factor in the progress of its affairs and these constant changes go a long way in highlighting the ignorance of the government.
Exploring Rio more important than supporting athletes
However, the Indian sports minister is not alone in misusing the privileges. Haryana sports minister Anil Vij led a nine-member delegation to the Olympics, which cost the exchequer more than Rs. 1 crore. But despite reaching Rio on August 14, they did not attend the events of Vikas Krishan (Boxer), Seema Antil (Discuss thrower), Ravinder Khatri and Hardeep Singh (Wrestlers). If one is left to wonder what they were up to, the delegation spent most of the time in its beach hotel and exploring the city when the above athletes were competing. This is when he had stated that he wanted to stand with players and see what problems they were facing.
As rightly pointed out by Abhinav Bindra, UK invested 5.5 million pounds for every medal that they earned (roughly 48 crore rupees) and it is the absence of this investment that is leading to the inconsistency in the medals earned by the India at different Olympics.
Insensitive and ignorant writer
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to simply put all the blame on officials. Writer Shobha De’s tweet mocking the Indian Olympians does highlight how high we hold our Indian athletes, stooping down to the extent of even doubting their purpose for going to Rio.
We are almost near the end of the Olympics and except for one bronze, one awaited final and 3 fourth place finishes (Mixed Doubles Tennis, Dipa Karmakar and Abhinav Bindra), India has hardly to show anything. This is the situation when we have sent the largest ever contingent to the Olympics. However, it hardly seems to be bothering anyone. Contrast this with what is happening in Australia right now. The Australian swimming body is being asked to answer the below par performance of Australian swimmers at the Olympics. They have won 10 medals instead of 18 as was widely anticipated and expected prior to the Olympics.
The Logical Indian take
Sports is education too
Give sports its due importance.