Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic Parade - Saudi women (walk behind) - Indian women ??


I had posted about the  "Parade of Nations" in the Olympics Opening Ceremony.  The opening ceremony at London Olympics 2012 was a spectacular event and during the Parade of Nations, athletes from each country participating in the Olympics paraded in the Olympic Stadium, preceded by their flag. The flag was borne by a sportsperson or official from that country chosen either by the National Olympic Committee or by the athletes themselves to represent their country. The teams walked around the stadium to the sound of the iconic modern music of Britain and Ireland.

Going by the tradition, national team of Greece entered first, as the original host of the Olympic Games, and the host country – in this case Great Britain  marched into the stadium last. All other countries entered the stadium in name order in the language of the host country, which in this case is the English language.  
Maria Sharapova leading the Russian contingent

Each team entered the stadium led by three individuals: the flagbearer in the centre, a child volunteer carrying what looked like a metal vase  and a young lady carrying a sign stating the country's name. The child volunteer was actually carrying a copper petal engraved with the name of the nation, which would be used to build the Olympic Cauldron for the torch relay destination. The flags were planted on the Glastonbury Tor representation in the stadium. The volunteer carrying the country name sign was wearing a dress made entirely from fabric printed with photos of Olympic volunteers.

Elsewhere in Saudi, the parade created ripples as this is the first time ever that women from ultra-conservative kingdom are participating and there was criticism in placing female athletes behind the men in the opening ceremony.  Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Islamic sharia law and imposes constraints on women, agreed to send women athletes to the Olympics on condition that they respect a strict dress code.  In the opening ceremony  the two women, Judoka Wojdan Shaherkani and US-raised 800m runner Sarah Attar, walked behind their male colleagues in the Saudi team. Rights activist Manal al-Sharif is quoted as writing "Saudi Arabia will remain in the back seat as long as its women are in the back seat," she wrote.  There has been strong criticism on the female athletes as well at the Kingdom. 

Back home in India, we have no such issues as the Indian contingent has a fair sprinkling of women and in the march past a woman walked close to the flagbearer Sushilkumar.  Sure many would jostle to be in the limelight and be caught in camera flashes during such occasions.

The dress theme was ‘team yellow’ as the men wore yellow safas, navy blue blazers, cream-coloured trousers, off-white shirts and ties, and the women were dressed in elegant sarees.  And alongside Sushin was a women in stark red top and blue tight pants, smiling and waving hands at cameras. 

Who was she ? – now everyone seem to be questioning and the  Indian camp is clueless about the trespasser's identity. "She had no business being there. It was a clear case of intrusion," said the acting chef-demission,Brig P K M Raja. "We are taking up the issue with the organizers. We don't know who she is and why she was allowed to walk in."  The Indians suspect a security breach and have decided to take up the matter with theLondon Olympic Games Organizing Committee (LOCOG).

Shame that while the medal prospecting athletes walked behind, an unknown lady was infront shoulder to shoulder with the flagbearer and the Chef de mission himself is not aware of who she is – but why and how was she allowed to be there for such a long time ? The march past is for the athletes and officials attached to the contingent and sure the mystery women is not going to get Team India any medal !!!!

India contrives to be in news at Olympics

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
29th July 2012.

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