Enough is enough. Government apathy towards lesser known sportspersons, particularly physically challenged ones, is getting too much to bear.
On Tuesday, Indian athletes who took part in the 23rd Summer Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey, staged a protest at the Delhi Airport upon their arrival there.
Their grouse – the team won four medals at the event and there was nobody there to receive them. This is indeed shocking and sad. If our cricket team was arriving after winning any tournament, there would be thousands there to welcome them.
Motorcades would be arranged and a public event to felicitate them would be organised. Gifts amounting to crores would be given to them and their remuneration would be doubled.
No-one grudges sports-persons their due, but spare a thought for others who do extremely well for the country too. However, the government and sports bodies take a blinkered view of that. Since many of these sports are unglamorous, they are marked under “Also won”.
Sometimes, one wonders if the sports ministry even knows there is this event called Deaflympics. Even if a sports ministry official had shown up at the airport, it would have made a difference to these athletes.
But nobody cares. If it was the cricket team in their place, then the officials would have rushed and jostled to get a photo opportunity with the cricketers.
Sports apathy is an age-old problem which has been haunting the country for decades.
Take the Rio Games last year. A huge contingent of sports ministry officials, including the minister, went there and allegedly had a “nice vacation”. They were rapped on the knuckles for entering forbidden areas by the Olympic officials. The doctor along with the contingent was not qualified as a sports doctor and his appointment was allegedly a case of nepotism.
This forced many team members like Vinesh Phugat, O.P. Jaisha and Saina Nehiwal to seek help from elsewhere to treat their injuries
A contingent of Haryana ministers also went with the group which was unwarranted. It is claimed that their trip cost around Rs one crore.
On the other hand, gymnast Dipa Karamkar was not allowed to take her own physiotherapist as it was deemed “unnecessary”. However, he had to be rushed to Rio when Dipa suffered an injury.
These are among many cases which, despite being highlighted, are met with indifference.
Even national championships of lesser events are a disaster. There have been cases where players, even physically challenged ones, have been herded together in rickety lodges with no food. They were even forced to defecate in the open.
These are among the many reasons why a big country like India with a huge potential does not win enough medals in international events. Many probes have been launched into India’s performances which, like many others, die a natural death.
It is imperative that sports would be best run by sportsperson with management skills. We don’t need babus and their chelas to decide the fate of our athletes.
Stop this trend now and look beyond the popular sports. We have the potential to be a great sporting nation.
But who is going to give the “Wakey, Wakey” call?