After being reinstated by the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday, the flag of India finally flew at the Sochi Games on Sunday.
The Indian Olympic Association was suspended in December 2012 for electing “corruption-tainted officials,” so the country’s three athletes were announced as independents and introduced without their national flag at the Opening Ceremony. The ban was lifted after the Indian Olympic Association held new elections last Sunday and the IOC executive board reinstated India.
The flag was officially raised in a ceremony in the mountain athletes’ village Sunday and was attended by about 100 people, according to the Associated Press. The Indian national anthem was played and the Indian athletes and officials received a round of applause upon entering the ceremony.
“I am absolutely thrilled and delighted. It’s a tremendous boost for Indian sports,” said new IOA president Narayna Ramachandran. “The national sport bodies were suffering because you didn’t get the grants from the IOC or Indian government. To have the ban lifted in two days was truly amazing.”
Indian luger Shiva Keshavan, a five-time Olympian, said the ban and subsequent reinstatement has raised more awareness for winter sports in India.
“This has brought a lot of attention. That’s what we needed. We have so many youngsters, their dreams and aspirations now rest on the shoulders of the new administration,” he said.
Keshavan and his two teammates – cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal and Alpine skier Thakur Himanshu – were hoping the issue would be resolved prior to the beginning of the games. That did not happen, but now one of them will be able to carry the Indian flag at the closing ceremony.
Still, it was a remarkably quick turnaround from ban to reinstatement. Ramachandran appreciated that.
“Just two days into the presidency and get your ban lifted,” he said. “Every one of us thought it would take some time. The (IOC) acted in such a fast manner, it’s unbelievable.”
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