Athletes from the world’s second most populous nation will not march under their flag at the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) will hold elections two days after the Opening Ceremony. The International Olympic Committee froze the IOA’s membership in December 2012 after the IOA elected tainted officials.
Even though the IOA will keep those tainted officials out of elections, they will come two days too late, according to Agence France-Presse. The IOC said that if elections were not held before Feb. 7, Indian athletes would be classified “as independent athletes under the Olympic flag,” according to AFP.
It will not be unprecedented — athletes have marched in the Parade of Nations under the Olympic flag before, including 2012 — but Indian Olympic luger Shiva Keshavan called the situation “shameful and pathetic.”
“It is a sad and embarrassing situation that Indian sport has been put in,” he told Mail Today, according to AFP. “People around the world know about the failure of our systems and about corruption and bad governance in sports.
“The essence of the Olympic Games is to represent and I feel it is shameful and pathetic for all of us Indians that athletes may not walk under the Indian flag.”
India, a nation of more than one billion people, has won 26 Olympic medals, all in the Summer Games. It has sent athletes to each of the last four Winter Olympics with a high of four in 2006, according to sports-reference.com.