Indian women athletes will sport a new look at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, at the Gold Coast in Australia, on April 4. Instead of their usual saris and blazers, they will be wearing blazers and trousers.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided that the entire Indian contingent, both men and women, will wear navy blue blazers and trousers.
“It is a matter of comfort,” said IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta. “We received feedback that wearing a sari for such a long time isn’t convenient for the athletes. Opening ceremonies usually carry on for four-five hours. Also, they need help to wear it, which complicates things for them. So we have decided that men and women will wear similar clothes for the ceremony.”
India’s wardrobe choices at the opening ceremonies of global events have been a topic of discussion for several years. Many women athletes have repeatedly complained about the unwritten dress code that forces them to wear a blazer over the sari. The odd east-meets-west fusion saw Indian women wearing navy blue blazers with yellow saris at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Welcoming the change, Olympian shooter Heena Sidhu, who will be leaving for the Gold Coast, said: “Blazers and trousers are definitely more convenient and will save a lot of time, but, at the same time, one may look like a man. Why not blazers and skirts? It’s more feminine.”
“I’ve worn a sari only at the 2010 CWG and 2010 Asian Games… I had to learn how to drape it from an aunt, and I still couldn’t tie it too well. I had to ask others for help. Some athletes are just not used to wearing a sari,” she said.
However, there are those who prefer the sari. “I love saris. I always found saris very beautiful and elegant. There are many who are uncomfortable and find it difficult to wear saris. I feel for them. But if given a choice, I’d still prefer a sari. It’s a personal choice,” said Olympian Jwala Gutta.
“We should be given a choice. There are those who like to wear trousers and those who like to wear saris… We should get the top athletes together — 10 people who they think are sensible and have represented the country for a long time. There’s no harm in taking suggestions,” said the shuttler.