The Indian Olympic Association may have been suspended over irregularities in its own election process, but that’s not stopping four of its athletes from competing independently in the upcoming Sochi Games.
Tired of being unable to represent their country at recent competitions, the four will compete under the Olympic, rather than Indian, flag in February.
Although happy to be able to compete, Indian skier Hira Lal is upset that his national flag will not be hoisted during the competition.
“Ever since the Indian Olympic Association was suspended by the International Olympic Committee, we did not get a chance to stand with our National Flag at the Asian and world championships,” he said. “Our national anthem is not sung. Whenever we go for the opening ceremonies we do not get the joy of standing beneath our flag. It is sad that our Indian national flag is not hoisted during competitions.”
They’re forced to train to the best of their ability away from the snow, as skier Rajat Thakur – another of India’s independent competitors – explained.
“India has a dearth of sponsors and members of the committee do not look at the talent of an athlete. They are self-involved. All of them want power and they all want to be at the top. They do not consider talent of an athlete; neither do they think that an athlete can do a lot better if provided with better training.”
Historically garnering little support and forced to rely on meagre and much-repaired equipment, India has not yet won a medal at a Winter Olympics.