December 10 - India face the prospect of not being allowed to compete under its own flag at Sochi 2014 despite agreeing to a series of changes forced on it by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) caved into pressure from the IOC after more than a year on Sunday (December 8) when they agreed to amend its constitution and hold new elections which will see Abhay Chautala and Lalit Bhanot replaced as President and secretary general respectively.
But Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, who last week had threatened the IOA with expulsion if they did not make the changes, revealed today that a suspension imposed in December 2012 would not be lifted until after the new elections are held on February 9.
That is two days after the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014 which means that India will not be allowed to compete under its own flag.
Shiva Keshavan, the luger who is set to be India's only competitor at Sochi 2014, will be forced to march under the Olympic flag.
In the extremely unlikely event he wins a gold medal, it also means that the Olympic anthem would be played and the Olympic flag raised as he stood on the podium.
"We maintained the suspension," said Bach following a meeting here of the IOC's ruling Executive Board.
"The roadmap we have established before with the Indian Olympic Committee (sic) implies also the elections four weeks after the approval of these statutes.
"So we are looking forward to the implementation of these new rules by transparent, open and democratic election in the IOA.
"We have already taken precaution for the athletes to make sure the athletes will not suffer from these procedures.
"Indian athletes can participate in the Winter Games if they qualify of course but if there is no election before Sochi which meets the approval of the IOC, there will be no Indian flag in the Sochi Games, there will be no mention of India but we will ensure the participation of Indian athletes as independent athletes under the Olympic flag.
"They will be provided with the necessary support and staff, but there will be no Chef de Mission."
But, providing the elections are held satisfactorily and meet the demands of the IOC, it means that Indian athletes will be able to under their own flag at several other major events next year.
These include the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing and the Asian Games in Incheon.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
December 2013: India Olympic Association agree to amend constitution after Bach threatens them with expulsion
September 2013: India Olympic suspension remains until they ban tainted officials
August 2013: India refuses to adopt IOC proposal on tainted officials
August 2013: Indian Government backs IOC action to prevent tainted officials taking office
August 2013: Twenty four overage Indian athletes sent home from Asian Youth Games