Krasnaya Polyana: The names adorning just about every available spot on Indian luger Shiva Keshavan’s speedsuit are written in faint grey letters, barely visible to those even nearby.
They are not insignificant. For the Sochi Olympics, those names are essentially Keshavan’s flag. “If I cannot represent the country,” Keshavan said, “at least I can represent the countrymen.”
India are not officially at the Sochi Games. The nation stands suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The ban is expected to be lifted after the IOA had finally followed the IOC directive not to allow tainted officials in their next elections.
But whatever the IOC decision, it will not come before the Sochi Winter Olympics, starting on Friday, and Keshavan and two other athletes from India — both skiers — will not be able to represent the Indian flag.
They will race under the Olympic flag in Sochi. In an effort to find a way to represent his country without a flag, Keshavan offered donors a chance to be listed on his uniform.
Some of those who backed his quest for the Sochi Games have their names on the white suit that he will wear on race days.
But that’s not the flag he loves. “It is upsetting,” Keshavan said. “Ultimately, for us, the inspiration is to represent our country. That’s what the Olympics are all about.
“The main thing has been taken away from us, and for quite a shameful reason, a violation of the ethics code — not just a violation, but a refusal to accept the ethics code until we were suspended.”