Disqualification at Winter Olympics is main concern of Indian athletes
New Delhi: Already deprived of the privilege of playing under the national flag in next month`s Winter Olympics, two of the three Indians athletes participating in the Sochi Games are now worried about facing disqualification for lack of equipments.
Alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross country competitor Nadeem Iqbal will have to buy new sports kits for the February 7-23 Sochi Winter Games or face disqualifications if the Sports Ministry does not release the necessary funds.
"I have to buy the whole sports kits as the ones I am using now will not be accepted in Sochi. I am fearing that I may be thrown out at the starting line," Himanshu told PTI from Shemshak in Iran where he is participating in an event as part of his preparation for the Games.
"The whole sports kit will cost at least Rs 6 lakh at the minimum. It can be more according to quality. I don`t have the money to buy the equipments. Whatever the money I had, I had spent on participating in events outside India to get qualified for the Games," he said.
The equipments will include the ski board, boots, stick, goggles, helmet, racing suit, back protector, etc.
"I will have to forget Winter Games if the government does not sanction the money," he added.
Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) Secretary Roshan Lal Thakur said that it`s mandatory for the participants to use the equipments specified for the Games or else they will be disqualified.
"The equipments to be used in (Winter) Olympics are of different specifications from those of other events. The two types of equipments can never be the same, so our athletes will have to buy new equipments," Thakur said.
"The rules are very strict. For example, the helmet will have to be a European Helmet 1077 Class A. The tag cannot be different from 1077 Class A. You will be disqualified if it`s different. All these specifications will be checked before the competition," he said.
"It is not that the Sports Ministry is not giving the amount. I got to know that the Ministry has sanctioned the necessary amount but it`s getting delayed as I am told it will have to go up to the Sports Minister for the final sanction," Thakur said.
"I am hoping that we get the necessary sanction by next week. We have to send all the documents back to the International Olympic Committee by January 22 so that the athletes can leave for Sochi early next month."
He said he had written to the Ministry two days back to immediately release Rs 15 lakh under three heads of sports kits, snow clothing and ceremonial dress for the three athletes.
"Other things can be done later. But we need money for buying sports kits, snow clothing and ceremonial dress now," he added.
Thakur said he had sent a budget of Rs 40 lakhs in total to the Sports Ministry for the three athletes. The amount will take care of everything, including flight fares and accommodation charges.
Luger Shiva Keshavan is the third Indian to take part in the Winter Olympics.
The Indians will be taking part in the Winter Olympics as Independent Athletes under the banner of the IOC as the country is now serving suspension since December 4, 2012.