Poorly-organised felicitation function at National Stadium in Delhi mars Olympic celebrations
An event meant to honour India’s Olympic heroes turned out to be chaotic. It was an eventful day for London medal winners who hopped from one function to the other, but the felicitation by the Sports Ministry at the National Stadium left a lot to be desired.It had all the makings of a hastily arranged programme without much thought going into it. One wondered why the stadium was not used for the venue, and instead a makeshift dais was put up near the gate. Hundreds of people strolled in without any security checks, making it a nightmare for police officials. Youngsters enrolled in the “Come and play scheme” of the Sports Authority of India and schoolchildren were called to attend the function. Besides, fans got too close to the dais, giving security officials a headache.Many of the athletes who were part of the India’s Olympic contingent had no place to sit and even the coaches were left to rue the mismanagement. Boxers Vijender Kumar and Manoj Kumar left in a huff while the hockey team quietly moved to a corner.”This isn’t the way to organise an event of this scale. We were felicitated after the Commonwealth Games at the same venue but that happened inside the stadium not in an open area like this,” said one of the athletes, part of India’s contingent in London.”It was a completely chaotic function. This could have been a security issue for everyone present here,” he added.Silver medallists Sushil Kumar and Vijay Kumar, bronze medal winners Yogeshwar, Saina Nehwal, MC Mary Kom and Gagan Narang all wore broad smiles as they were greeted by ministry officials. They were later taken in open jeeps to the Amar Jawan Jyoti at Indian Gate where they paid floral tributes to the martyrs. All the while the crowd followed them along with a strong media contingent.advertisementAt the stadium, Maken handed cheques of Rs30 lakh each to the silver medallists while the bronze medalists received Rs20 lakh each. Maken said that the government would continue its support to the athletes under the ‘Operation Excellence’ 2010 scheme.”We aim to win 25 medals at the 2020 Olympics. We will provide all assistance,” he said.A faux pax during the event spelled embarrassment for the medallists. Eyebrows were raised, jokes did the rounds when the master of ceremonies called Saina Nehwal ‘Sania Nehwal’.That was not all. Yogeshwar Dutt was welcomed as ‘Yogendra Dutt’, shooter Joydeep Karmakar was identified as an ‘archer’ and Gagan Narang’s bronze medal changed colour to ‘silver’. The athletes somehow maintained their poise.Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh slammed the ministry. “This is not the way to treat the national heroes and their family,” he told Mail Today. “There was no place to sit. There were four disciplines that earned us medals, but the names of federations were not mentioned,” he said.