Winter Olympics: India’s Athletes To Compete, But Not As A Country

The 2014 Winter Olympics will see many flags from countries around the world, but one country that won’t be represented is India. The country will have three athletes competing in Sochi, but they are competing as independent athletes.

The Washington Post reported that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Indian Olympic Association a year ago for violations of its charter, “including electing leaders with pending criminal charges.”

Even though the three athletes from India, luge competitor Shiva Keshavan and alpine skiers Himanshu Thakur and Nadeem Iqbal, won’t be competing under their country’s flag, they say that it won’t affect their performance. According to the Huffington Post, Keshavan said the following in an email to The Associated Press:

“In my heart and mind I’m competing for India. Every day I’m flooded with messages from Indians all over the world telling me they are supporting me. This is enough to push me forward.”

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was reportedly banned in December of 2012 for not adhering to its own constitution. The Huffington Post stated that “though the IOA has re-drafted its constitution as directed, the ban can be lifted only after post-Sochi elections, so the Indian flag will not be used at the February 7-23 games.” As a result, not only will the country’s flag be missing from the games, but the athletes can not wear their country’s insignia and their national anthem will not be played during medal ceremonies.

“It’s quite sad,” Keshavan said, in a Skype interview according to the Washington Post. “Rather than showcasing our country, it will be a shameful moment in the history of our country’s sport.” Keshavan is said to be India’s top Winter Olympic athlete this year, even though he won’t be playing under his country’s flag.

“A medal is my aim but seems just a little out of reach at this time,” Keshavan said. “I’m simultaneously working with my in-house engineering team to build a sled which will be hopefully the fastest I have ever been on. But this will take some time to develop. Right now, I have to focus on getting four clean runs in Sochi, and be the fastest I can.”

Keshavan along with alpine skiers Thakur and Iqbal, are all planning to give their all while competing during the 2014 Winter Olympics. While not competing under their flag may be a set back, it seems to be a minor one considering all the work and practice that goes into creating an Olympic athlete

[Image via Shutterstock/empics]