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Tri-colour finally unfurled at Sochi Games

PTI
Published Feb 17, 2014, 2:33 am IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 9:12 am IST
National flag unfurled at Olympics Village, 5 days after IOC revoked suspension on India.
Indian athletes, alpine skier Thakur Himanshu, second left, luger Shiva Keshavan, centre, and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal, second right, pause for photos after a welcome ceremony for the Indian Olympic team at the Mountain Olympic Village
 Indian athletes, alpine skier Thakur Himanshu, second left, luger Shiva Keshavan, centre, and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal, second right, pause for photos after a welcome ceremony for the Indian Olympic team at the Mountain Olympic Village

Sochi: The Indian flag was on Sunday unfurled at the Winter Olympics Village here at a special ceremony, five days after the International Olympic Committee revoked a 14-month suspension on the country.

The ceremony, which lasted around 45 minutes and organised at International Plaza of Mountain Cluster Village, was attended by the three Indian athletes taking part in the Winter Olympics, new IOA President N. Ramachandran and European Olympic Committees President Patrick Hickey, nine days into the Sochi Games.

 

"The Indian flag joined those of 87 other nations flying at Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games today when it was hoisted during a team welcome ceremony for the recently reinstated Indian Olympic Association," the IOC said in a statement.

Luger Shiva Keshavan, alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross country skier Nadeem Iqbal and their three coaches stood silent as the tri-colour was hoisted with the national anthem being played at the background. The ceremony started at 1200 hrs local time (1330 IST).

"There were three IOC officials and IOA president in the ceremony, besides the six of us -- three athletes and three coaches and a few people from other countries. We have arranged our ceremonial dresses on which were written India," Winter Games Federation of India Secretary Roshan Lal Thakur, one of the coaches, told PTI.

 

"We were not allowed to fly the tri-colour and wear any dress on which is written India when the Games began due to IOA's suspension but after the suspension was lifted, we can now proudly fly our national flag and wear dresses with India written on them," he said.

Asked about the ceremony, Thakur said, "Six of us along with the IOA President stood in a line. First the IOC flag was raised and then the tri-colour with the national anthem sung at the background."

The raising of the tri-colour symbolically marked the completion of India's return to the Olympic fold, a week after the IOA conducted its elections on the diktat of the IOC.

 

"I am thrilled and delighted. I don't look into the past. I only look for the future," Ramachandran said.

Thakur also said that IOC President Thomas Bach came at the Mountain Cluster Village in the morning and met the Indian athletes over breakfast.

"The IOC President came at the Mountain Village and had breakfast with us this morning. He interacted with us and it was a nice feeling," he said.

The tri-colour did not fly in Sochi Village as the IOA was serving suspension when the Games started on February 7. The IOC lifted the suspension on February 11, thereby allowing the three Indian athletes to represent their National Olympic Committee and country.

 

Iqbal, Keshavan and Himanshu began the Games as Independent Olympic Participants and entered the Opening Ceremony under the Olympic flag. Now, they will walk behind the tri-colour at the Closing Ceremony on February 23.

The IOC supported the three athletes directly to ensure their participation at Sochi 2014. Two of the athletes, Keshavan and Thakur, were recipients of Olympic scholarships.

Himanshu said he had goosebumps witnessing the hoisting of the tri-colour.

"It was a special moment when you see your country's flag being raised at Games Village. I was so thrilled that I had goosebumps. It was a wonderful feeling," said Himanshu who is competing in men's Giant Slalom competition on February 19.

 

Keshavan had to take part as IOP in his 37th finish in men's luge singles event as India was still under suspension when he competed on February 8 and 9. Iqbal participated as an Indian athlete and finished 85th out of 87 competitors in 15km classic run on February 14.

"It is amazing. It is like coming to the Olympics again. I am thankful to the IOC who let us compete in any case, that they thought of our athletes," Keshavan said.

"Unfortunately my event happened before India was reinstated, but what counts is the country. More than the athletes I think it is the people who were supporting us and wanted to see the athletes represent the country. And I am sure it is a great moment for all Indians. This decision is very good for sport in India," said Keshavan, who is unlikely to take part in the closing ceremony as he has reportedly booked a return ticket for Monday. 

 

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