SOCHI, Russia (AP) - It’s probably the most important moment Olympic athletes can have besides competing: Walking in the opening ceremony for their country.
But imagine waiting for your grand entrance and getting your cue: “Independent Olympic Participants.”
The equivalent of the International Olympic Committee saying it’s not you, just your country.
No wonder the athletes’ parade at the Sochi Games wasn’t so fun for Indian luger Shiva Keshavan, who said he spent the moments beforehand talking with the other two Indian athletes about why their flag wouldn’t fly.
“That enthusiasm wasn’t there that I generally feel at the opening ceremony,” he said.
But India’s back after resolving a dispute over its Olympic governance, setting the stage for its flag to immediately fly in Sochi along with the rest of the nations represented.
“The whole world is watching and when the Indian flag doesn’t fly, people know that it’s because of corruption and it’s not a nice image for the country,” Keshavan said. “So although there are real problems, still, symbolism is really important at the Olympic Games.”
Now, he thinks the fixes - the first in history to lead the IOC to lift a suspension during an Olympics - will give him and his countrymen a boost: “You have a lot more behind you when you go with your country’s flag.”
- By Oskar Garcia - Twitter http://twitter.com/oskargarcia
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu