Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Olympics

Pistorius in Paralympics

Paralympics is meant for physically handicapped athletes. Olympics is for normal or able bodied athletes. If an athlete takes part in one he/she should not be allowed in another.

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa had taken part in 2004 and 2008 Paralympics and won gold medal in 200 metres race. In 2012 he wanted to take part in Olympics. IOC officials did not want him in Olympics. Pistorius argued that prosthetics did not offer him advantage over normal athletes and was allowed to take part in Olympics. In one relay event his team did not complete the run because one athlete fell down and did not hand over the baton to Pistorius but the fall was blamed on an athlete of another team and Pistorius’ team was allowed to proceed to the next round.

Having taken part in Olympics, Pistorius should have been barred from Paralympics but was allowed to take part.

On 3/9/2012 Alan Oliveira of Brazil won 200 metres race in 21.45 seconds and gold medal. Pistorius came second in 21.52 seconds. Soon came Pistorius’ outburst.

“Not taking away from Alan’s performance, he’s a great athlete, but these guys are a lot taller and you can’t compete stride length.”

“You saw how far he came back. We aren’t racing a fair race. I gave it my best. The IPC have their regulations. The regulations allow that athletes can make themselves unbelievably high. We’ve tried to address the issue with them in the weeks up to this and it’s just been falling on deaf ears.”

“He’s never run a 21 second race and I don’t think he’s a 21 second athlete. I have never lost a 200 metre race in my career.”

One has not lost before does not mean one cannot lose now or in future.

Pistorius’ complaint was that Oliveira wore longer blades. Oliveira did not break any law. IPC issued a statement. “There is a rule in place regarding the length of the blades, which is determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete. All athletes were measured today prior to competition by a classifier and all were approved for competition.”

In the race Oliveira had 98 strides, Pistorius 92. Pistorius had longer strides. In the heats, Pistorius had completed the race in 21.30 seconds, a world record, and faster than Oliveira’s time in the final. Pistorius could have used longer blades in Paralympics. If that had made him run faster than in Olympics it would have proved technology makes a difference.

Pistorius later said “I do believe there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.”

There is an issue here but it is not about length of blades but an athlete taking part in both Olympics and Paralympics.

London Olympics and boycott

It is unfair on the part of some former Olympians to ask present athletes to boycott London Olympics because of Dow sponsorship. Former Olympians lose nothing. The athletes have practiced for three and half years. As per one estimate 111 crore rupees are spent.

Dow continues to do business in India. There is no demand to stop Dow doing business in India. Lawyers belonging to political parties have represented Dow. IOC has said Dow will remain as sponsor.

China and Pakistan are in illegal occupation of Indian territory. India has sporting ties with both countries. India took part in Olympics and Asian Games in China. Pakistan has sponsored terrorism against India.

It is meaningless to collect signatures for boycott of Olympics and give them to IOA. The government decides on boycott. It is a political decision.

Ajay Maken has written twice to IOA about Dow. How much support he has in the cabinet? He could not get Sports Bill approved by cabinet. IOA decided to participate in Olympics and write a strong letter to IOC to protest Dow sponsorship. IOA derives its power from IOC and has used IOC in its fight against government or sports minister.

Those who feel strongly about Dow should ask for its expulsion from India. No one has asked lawyers who defend Dow to give up their briefs.

India and Olympics ban

International Olympics Council (IOC) has written to India that government cannot interfere in matters of Indian Olympics Association (IOA) and if it interferes India can be banned from participating in London Olympics 2012.

IOA officials do not want to two terms limit and age limit mandated by Sports Ministry and the matter is in court. Some IOA officials are IOC officials and that has resulted in India receiving the letter threatening ban.

Sometime back there was a report that IOA had received a letter from IOC stating that only federations of Olympics sports should be affiliates of IOA and only chairmen of affiliates could vote in IOA elections instead of chairmen, secretaries and treasures. Federations of sports like atya patya, kabaddi and kho-kho could not be affiliates of IOA. Nothing was heard about it after that.

It cannot be only duties and no rights for the government. IOA officials hold on to power for years without accountability. When the government spends people’s money on sports it should have rights. Whatever little India has achieved in sports is in spite of IOA. Athletes do not get their dues. Those athletes who fight for their rights are dropped in spite of being winners and the euphemism of “rested” is used. Last year hockey players united and went on strike before World Cup to get their dues. The government should stand firm and enforce age and term limits. If IOA officials do not agree the government should stop giving them money and take back the stadia, buildings and other things given to them. If the fight with IOC and IOA means Indian athletes can not officially take part in London Olympics 2012 so be it.

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