Rio Olympic 2016 is nearing its end, but India still awaits a tick on its medal tally for this year’s games. There has been a sense of disappointment over the dismal performance of Indian athletes, but it seems our politicians and the “others” in the Indian delegation who traveled all the way to Rio ‘to motivate the players’ are grabbing more eyeballs than before.
It began with Sports Minister Vijay Goel getting reprimanded by the Olympic organisers for the “aggressive and rude” behaviour of his entourage. The organisers even threatened to cancel his accreditation in a letter written to India’s Chef-de-mission.
It all revolved around Goel entering out-of-access areas and clicking selfies with athletes. As he returned from Rio, Goel was involved in yet another gaffe making spelling errors/typos in names of athletes, even mixing up Dutee Chand and Srabana Nanda when wishing the latter Nanda luck for her qualifying event on social media. All this when our players are facing criticism and perhaps struggling to keep up their morale too.
It must be noted that during the London Olympics, the then Sports Minister Ajay Maken didn’t attend and there was a lot of noise around attendance of IOA president Suresh Kalmadi who was then under probe for misappropriation of funds during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
And if the central minister wasn’t enough, the state ministers of Haryana too have been having a gala time in Rio. They are in the city on the pretext of cheering for state athletes and to learn how to prepare if they were handed the baton to host any future National Games. The trip cost the Haryana exchequer Rs 1 crore, but the nine-member contingent led by state Sports Minister Anil Vij chose to skip events of state athletes Vikas Krishan, Seema Antil, Ravinder Khatri and Hardeep Singh in favour of the sunny beaches of Rio, reports Hindustan Times.
Even former IOA president Abhay Chautala is in Rio for the Olympics – something that baffled a special court which is hearing his disproportionate assets case.
It is not just India that sends ministers or government officials to the Olympics, but the question arises whether these politicians attend the Games for the betterment of the sport in the state and the country or consider it a paid holiday.
While the delegates traveled business class, our athletes were flown on economy class tickets – a reason cited by Dutee Chand for her poor performance in the 100m Heats. Does this kind of treatment meted out to athletes, who go through arduous training for years under pitiful circumstances and yet aim to win a medal for the country, not humiliate them and bring down their confidence?
The scenario is such that the hockey teams were served beer and peanuts during an Independence Day event organised by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports at the Indian Embassy in Rio. The hapless players had skipped their dinner at games village to attend the event in a haste.
With just four days left for the 2016 Olympic games to conclude, India is still trying to win its first medal and the hopes are again up after PV Sindhu’s victory against world number 2 Wang Yihan. While India managed to bag six medals in total in 2012 Olympic, the number is surely going to fall this time.
The government and authorities have a lot to learn from this year’s experiences and it wouldn’t be wrong to reform the entire structure. Only then, would probably India be able to hope for a better performance at the top sports stage in the world.