In a few hours from now, the curtain will go up on the greatest sporting spectacle on the planet. Proud athletes will march out carrying their national flag and bearing the hopes of their compatriots. However, there is a very high chance that India’s hockey heroes may not be part of this celebration of human excellence. A goof up by shockingly remiss bureaucrats here in India has meant that the hockey team doesn’t have an appropriate uniform which conforms to IOC stipulations to participate in the parade. Indeed, for the first time in India’s Olympic history, the participants will be deprived of the chance of holding aloft the tri-colour.
This is just the latest humiliation heaped upon the hockey team. The team has been abandoned to sleep on bean bags because their rooms in Rio are not furnished appropriately and because the Indian chef-de-mission has not been able to get things sorted out in time. When the Union Sports Minister was asked to explain, he came out with a string of nonchalant responses which will only go onto further undermine the morale of a team that is already feeling let down by the bureaucracy.
In fact, Indian hockey president attacked the big bosses of Indian sport in his blog post, asking them if they had all gone for a paid holiday to Rio. The sports minister may think it is a ‘choti si baat’ but try telling that to the hockey team and several other athletes who have been cast aside by a famously callous establishment. An establishment that reduced India to a laughing stock ahead of the CWG games that have all the time in the world to hold elaborate press conferences to announce ambassadors for Rio, but has no time for athlete welfare.