The difference couldn’t be starker. Barely 15 minutes after Mongolian boxer Tugstsogt Nyambayar was controversially ousted from the men’s bantamweight category, their entire contingent decided to take the International Boxing Association (AIBA) head on.
Like Sarita Devi, Nyambayar lost to a South Korean opponent after a controversial decision. While Nyambayar was the winner, at least according to a large number of those who watched the bout. The judges felt otherwise. They had awarded the bout to Sangmyeong Ham. Immediately, the Mongolian officials swung into action. Their chef de mission, Badmaanyambu Baterdene reached the venue within minutes, took up the issue with the organisers and led the protest.
While the Mongolian officials were swift to act, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) office-bearers chose not to involve themselves in Sarita’s case. Sarita did not even have the $500 required to lodge a protest with AIBA. Her husband had to depend on Sarita’s coach Lenin Meitei and an Indian journalist to pay the amount.
The boxer, who felt she was a victim of a ‘pre-determined’ bout, waited for almost an hour for assistance as she and her husband Thoiba Singh tried to work out a way to submit an official protest. The coaches, who were busy attending the other boxers whose bouts were lined up, could not tend to their needs. In the end, they had to fend for themselves.
Although senior IOA officials, including secretary general Rajeev Mehta and deputy chef de mission Kuldeep Vats, were present at the venue, none offered assistance. Mehta, instead, asked a couple of journalists and Sarita herself as to why there was a delay in lodging the protest, unaware of the protocols and procedures himself. “Don’t worry, it will be fine,” he then told her. Even Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) secretary general Randhir Singh decided to steer clear from the issue. He and Vats left the venue soon after Sarita’s bout.