Vijay Goel has made India a laughing stock at the Olympics

PM Modi must take action against the sports minister.

 |  5-minute read |   17-08-2016
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Sports minister Vijay Goel got away lightly with a rap on his knuckles though he deeply embarrassed the country with "rude" and "aggressive" behaviour of members of his entourage at the Rio Games.

The Games organising committee threatened Goel with cancellation of his accreditation and thereby expulsion from Rio.

Has his master, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taken note of how deeply this minister and the officials have hurt the nation's reputation at the biggest sports forum?

Worse, Goel has embarrassed and hurt the athletes who immensely made the people proud by their herculean efforts.

Dipa Karmakar, Deepika Kumari and Dutee Chand and all of those who carried the aspirations and the trust of the people and fittingly lived up to hard work they had put in felt humiliated by the conduct of the minister.

Also read - Rio is not Delhi: Curb your enthusiasm, Vijay Goel

Back home we know of the tough journey the athletes have covered to reach the Olympics. We are aware of their struggle, sweat and tears.

In Rio, the international athletes, the sports community and the people don't separate the athletes, sports managers and ministers. All those who walk under the nation's flag are one.

The international sports community and lovers don't care to find out that the country's sports minister doesn't know who is Dutee Chand and who is Srabani Nanda.

They don't care to know that the minister can't spell the name of the athlete who made history by being the first Indian in the country's history to have missed a medal by whisker in the toughest discipline of gymnastics.

They also don't know what we the people know so well. They don't know that for the Indian ministers, many of the sports officials and federation chiefs don't represent Indian Olympic movement, sports movement, a sporting culture and ideal.

For them, for Vijay Goel and his ilk the Olympics are not more than an outing, a picnic, and an opportunity to flaunt their power.

vijay-goel-rio-olymp_081716091915.jpg The Indian elites don't love sports.  

Vijay Goel was not the first, and he will not be the last, to strut at an international sports forum with his hirelings and hangers-on.

Goel might have been the first to have been threatened with cancellation of his accreditation for his intrusive behaviour, for gatecrashing at events with his unaccredited hirelings but the Indian ministers and officials are pretty well known for their rude and unsportsman-like conduct at international sports events.

Back in 2006 at the Asian Games in Doha, this reporter saw Suresh Kalmadi, then the president of the Indian Olympic Association, sozzled at a media event.

He was surrounded by bevy of young girls. On discreet inquiry, it turned out that over a dozen young women had travelled with him to Doha.

One of them, who introduced herself as a journalist, told this reporter that she had given up journalism long time ago and was in the modelling and event management business.

The international sports community doesn't know the wall that separates the Indian sports administrators from the sportsmen and sportswomen.

It's wall that the sports administrators have erected around themselves and a wall that the athletes find impossible to breach.

It's the same wall that separates the people from the politicians and administrators, the Indian elites from the hoi polloi.

The Olympic movement in India is a campaign from the below. It's a story of the people who brave heaviest of odds to aspire for podium finish at the international sports events despite all the obstacles that the officials and administrators can put in their way.

Unlike cricket and a few other disciplines, most of the athletes come from poor and marginalised sections of the society.

It's a story that was written in sweat and tears by Milkha Singh, Pan Singh Tomar, Sriram Singh, PT Usha and Mary Kom.

It's a story of the athletes who ran at the Olympics without shoes, who trained without proper equipment, who lacked even the basic diet that's necessary for athletes to compete at the highest levels.

Also read - Why we are fuming over our sports minister taking selfies at Olympics

And of the athletes who sold their national and international medals to survive and who died in penury.

Give a test to Vijay Goel. Run past him the videos and still photographs of Sriram Singh and Pan Singh Tomar and ask him to identify them.

Bet he would fail. Most of the sports administrators would fail the test.

It's because they have no love for sports. They love the money, the prestige that goes with association with mega sporting events such as Olympics but not the sports itself.

The Indian elites don't love sports. How many of them encourage their sons and daughters to take up sports seriously except cricket and tennis that can bring money, quick name and fame?

One wonders and marvels at the efforts the Dipa Karmakar and our athletes put in to reach the level where they have reached.

In the hinterland, in the hills and mountains that lack road connectivity, where the schools have no proper roofs, the places that lack basic health facilities and where access to proper drinking water is a constant struggle, Dipa Karmakar and Deepika Kumari are born.

Someone writing about Indian athletes recently said Ethiopian and Kenyan athletes too lack the facilities, which the US sportspersons take for granted, and yet excel at the Olympics. True.

But one also needs to ask a follow-up question. Does Ethiopia too have a Shobhaa De? Does Kenya too have a Vijay Goel?

De, prima donna of cocktail circuit, has been mercilessly trolled and ridiculed for disgracing athletes. Goel should be sacked for disgracing the athletes and the country.


Ashok K Singh Ashok K Singh @kashoksingh

He is a journalist, writer and commentator.

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