Indian flag raised at Asian Games athletes village

The Indian flag in presence of few officials and athletes was officially raised at the athletes village in Jakarta on Thursday.

The Indian flag being raised at the Asian Games athletes village.   -  Special Arrangement

At 2.45pm Indonesia time, the Indian presence at the 18th Asian Games was formally recognised with the Indian flag officially going up at the Athletes Village in Jakarta on Thursday, a day after the officials and athletes put up smaller versions on their own on the occasion of Independence Day.

Attended by a handful of coaching staff from a few disciplines including wrestling, the bulk of Indian presence was made up by the men’s hockey team that turned out in full force.

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“It is a proud moment for all of us and unless there is a genuine reason for it, I feel we should be there to see the flag go up. It makes the entire experience so much more real at such multi-discipline games,” India men's hockey coach Harendra Singh said.

Attended by the Indian chef-de-mission Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and his deputies R.K. Sacheti and D.K. Singh, the ceremony also saw an exchange of mementos between host Indonesia and the visiting nations. Qatar, Myanmar and Tajikistan were the other nations to raise their flags alongside India.

No press attache, others clueless

It was a surprise when the list of officials submitted by the IOA did not include a press attache for the Games, specially since four deputy chef-de-missions have been named – two each for both Jakarta and Palembang.

A meeting by the organisers and the OCA on Thursday to brief NOC media officials saw India go unrepresented. The meeting was about distribution of media tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies but no one in the Indian contingent was even aware of it. No one knew of the process either.

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“Is there a separate process and ticket for the opening and closing even for media? Let me check up, I have no idea,” a delegation official said. Another advised to buy them online but then said he would check up when told there is a quota of media tickets for every NOC.

This is the first time the Indian contingent is travelling without any press attache, who acts not just as the official liason between the contingent and the travelling media but also helps facilitate interactions with athletes and officials on important issues.

First in, last out

The Indian handball teams were the first to reach the city and check into the athletes village on August 11. They will be among the last to leave the place, on September 1. This, despite their competitive outing being all but over after losing their first two matches so far. While the men only have one more preliminary game left, against Iraq, the women have two with neither in with a chance to register any upsets.

While the women have never won a game since participating for the first time in 2006, the men have a better record – they have won a grand total of three matches in their four appearances.

“We will be staying on for the classification matches, they are also important,” a team official said, in all seriousness. The handball teams’ inclusion had been controversial even before they travelled.

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