The irony of the time is Indian parents love medals at the Olympics, they are proud of the achievements but, they are always found discouraging their own kids to be an active participant in the sports, it’s something that is always devalued amongst the masses in general. The Tokyo Olympics again challenged the notions of the country with its diverse youth population and the one amongst the top of the world economy on its inability to perform at the Olympics to its maximum potential. Despite everything, India’s failure to grab more medals at the Olympics raises concern over the atrocious sports conditions prevailing in India.
Without a doubt, this question comes up every year whenever the Olympics are held. Why has the culture of sports in India had been confined in just few countable states like Haryana and Manipur? And why is it curbed only in few sports. We can’t pinpoint exactly what led to this downfall as there is no certain answer. But, the poor performance of India in the Olympics offers some interesting insights into the sports culture and its conditions.
Some factors that might explain this trend is that in India, every system which is a part and parcel of the sports is not well-placed. Apart from this, athletes and players who participate do not acquire the training as compared to the athletes of the world-class nation.
The common reason is that India as a country and Indian as an individual always have differing priorities over sports. The attitude towards sport and physical well-being is also a factor that discourage the masses as, it is consistently considered as a waste of time. For most of the Indian parents and their kids’ sports were not a priority. Madhuli Kulkarni the sport psychologist talked about the saying “kheloge kudoge to honge kharab, padhoge likhoge to bnoge nawab” most Indians firmly believes in this same ideology and persistently indulge the same into their kids. Due to which the interest in sports is never outshown by the interested participant.
Funding is a very important aspect of the Olympics. If we get more funds in the Olympic year then it helps in allocating better resourses. In India, Annual Calendar and Training Competition (ACTC) allowed for the preparation of the Tokyo Olympics. This year on Monday for 2021-2022, the Central Government allocated Rs.2,596.14 crore which is less by 16%, than what was allocated in the previous financial year, when no sports activity was held due to Covid-19. If National Sports Federation (NFS) gets some additional funding this year, in such unprecedented time beside the government, it would turn out to be a great support.
Also, the Indian sports culture is another story, I have witnessed this with horror. There was a woman who wanted tennis player membership in a club. She earned her spurs in some best tennis tournaments, despite all her credentials the club management denied the participant because of the gender stereotyping in the sports which turns out to be the reason that demotivated billions of women to pursue sports as a career. Apart from this, a lot of time in the sports like karate, wrestling, swimming, archery the boundaries between the training and the abuse are blurred which ultimately violates the safe space of the individuals participating in these sessions.
With the recent aversion that Vandana Katharia and her family faced during Olympics shows the prejudices that the Indians are so strongly withholding, reduces the sportsperson amongst marginalised communities only to their caste identities. The problem lies in the core as the sportswoman was not only dehumanised even after her mind-blowing achievements and faced the backlash for the loss in the Olympics altogether.
Such incidents not only highlight the bigger problem that discourages the sportsperson from the marginalised communities to actively participate without the horrors of caste and class discrimination but also, lead us to question how long will it take for the upper-class Indians to recognise the privileges they hold and the inherent prejudices they are failing to challenge.
The moment Vandana Katariya and her family bear the brunt of these caste slurs it shows the systematic oppression that cease to exist for the sportsperson from marginalised backgrounds, who not only challenges the troubles that the sport itself offer but the institutionalised injustices that persist to exist for them.
Conclusion: – No one can exactly explain the Olympic medal deficiency. Everyone loves medals but no one cares about the development of sports. We should motivate and support the athletes, medal-winning people like Sindhu, Lovina, or non-medal winning people. Despite all the odds and obstacles, in every step, at every stage as we might not have any role in their success, but we should provide them with the required resources, financial aid, encouragement which is the bare minimum we can do. After all, those medals are there because, this all is the fruit of their sweat and grit.