Zee Media Bureau/ Jayanta Oinam
New Delhi: Sports and games, after all, are also international affairs, loaded with nationalistic feelings. Like any other cultural facet which helps form image of a country, what a player or a group of players from a particular country does in the international arena, also defines that dominion - their collective dreams and common aspirations. That`s why countries spend fortunes to establish sporting infrastructure and fight for podium finishes in any available competition. Sports today, well and truly, is the real soft power of a country.
However, for the billions of Indians, sporting competitions are still a luxury that we can`t afford despite the a youthful population. And this is what has been made to reflect in the run up to Sochi Games. First, there`s the news, hitherto reported, of the Indian contingent - a motley group of enthusiasts, going to the 22nd Winter Olympics as independent competitors. Because, there are no takers for winter sports in the country. Then, the announcement from the `defunct` Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that their much anticipated elections will be held on February 9, two days behind the date-line given by the International Olympic Association.
The election was asked to conduct to clean country`s sporting bodies and the governance from the malice of corruption and inefficiency, and paving the way for a return to the Olympic community. Ostensibly, the Indian body agreed to hold the election as per the guidelines, which also includes abiding by the dates given. So, when the Games open in the Imeretin Valley, on the coast of the Black Sea, on 6th of February, Indians will be introduced to the world as independents, without the mandatory national flag.
As expected, the mood in the `Indian` camp in Sochi is gloomy to say the least. Country`s lone medal hope, Shiva Keshavan, who is competing in luge, said that it is `a sad and embarrassing situation`. How cruel will be it, if he wins a medal and there`s no national flag, song to acknowledge his hard work and the achievement.