India Finally Joins Winter Olympics — 5 Days After the Games Began

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Shiva Keshavan of India prepares to start his run during a training session for the men’s singles luge at the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 6. He’ll now be able to compete under the Indian flag instead of the IOC’s.
Image: Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday lifted a ban of India’s domestic Olympic committee, meaning that it will now recognize the Indian flag at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. That means the three Indian Olympians who entered last Friday’s opening ceremony as “independent Olympic participants” can now compete while representing their home nation.

“You have a lot more behind you when you go with your country’s flag,” Indian luger Shiva Keshavan told The Associated Press on Tuesday after the IOC’s announcement.

Now gone is this lonely image from the opening ceremony, replaced by the saffron, green and white of India’s three-paneled flag:

India’s reinstatement marks the first time that the suspension of a national Olympic council has been lifted during the actual Olympics, according to the IOC.

The IOC suspended India’s Olympic council in December 2012 after it elected to office two officials whose reputations had previously been besmirched by scandal. Abhay Chautula was elected president of the council despite being charged in a non-sports recruitment scam, according to the AP. Lalit Bhanot was elected as secretary general, despite spending 10 months in jail after being found guilty of corruption regarding the organization of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the Associated Press reports.

The IOC reinstatement came after India’s Olympic committee elected a new president and established a new constitution in a Sunday meeting, according to the AP.

Keshavan, cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal and slalom skier Hamanshu Thakur all can now compete while seeing their own country’s flag fly alongside the banners of the 2014 games’ 88 other participating nations.

“That enthusiasm wasn’t there that I generally feel at the opening ceremony,” Keshavan, who has competed in five straight Winter Olympics dating back to 1998, told the AP.

No matter how Keshavan and his teammates fare in their respective sports, India already has one big Olympic win wrapped up this year.

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