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Luge player from India denied national representation at Sochi

Luge player from India denied national representation at Sochi

Posted February. 08, 2014 03:26,   


Shiva Keshavan, 33, is participating in men’s luge competition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. After making his Olympic debut at the Nagano event in Japan at age 17 in 1998, he is participating at Olympic Games for the fifth consecutive event. Performance has been far from being stellar. He has never ranked within 25th, and mostly hovered at rankings around 30th, and has been hardly close to winning a medal. Nevertheless, he took pride in representing India, known as a backwater of winter sports.

However, he came to feel a sense of despair as if losing his nationality at the Olympics. His official status at the Olympics is not an athlete representing India but an “independent Olympic athlete.” India is not found in the 18 Asian countries that take part in the Sochi Olympics, which are introduced on the official website of the event. At the opening on Friday, he gained entry with two skiers from India by holding up the Olympic flag in lieu of the Indian national flag. Chances are not high but even if he wins a medal, the Olympic flag will be raised. Even if he clinches the gold, the Olympic anthem rather than the Indian national anthem will be played.

This measure is being taken because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) deprived the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) of the Olympic membership in December 2012. The association was disqualified because officials involved in corruptions were elected at the Indian association’s leadership election, which the government exercised undue influence. The Indian association was deemed to have violated the principle of strict separation of politics and sports. The IOC planned to lift the penalty if the Indian association holds a re-election before the Olympics’ opening, but the Indian organization set the election on Sunday. Keshavan said, “It is hugely disappointing and shameful that I cannot represent India. Still, I will perform with the determination to represent the Indian people. Cheers of Indians scattered around the world give big boost to my endeavor.”

Since India lacks a luge training site, Keshavan used to ride a wheeled sled at mountainous roads. He was invited to join the Italian national team in 2002, but he rejected the offer, saying, “I am an Indian citizen.” Ahead of this year’s event, he received assistance from the U.S. national team. Keshavan and his wife reportedly taught yoga to raise fund for his training expenses.