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It's 'business' as usual for IOA officials

india Updated: Aug 09, 2012 00:12 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Now that the Olympic Games for India are not just about participation any more, maybe the government needs to take a fresh look at some of its policies, or at least make exceptions.

The sports secretary and senior bureaucrats are entitled to fly first class, which is a lot fancier than business class. But when it comes to Olympians, the real heroes, economy class remains the government's travel policy.

Athletes returning from London did voice their disappointment saying the government should have seen to it that at least the medal winners got to travel first class, but rules are rules.

So even as senior officials of the Indian Olympic Association travelled business class and first class to London for the Games, a four-member shooting team, including silver medallist Vijay Kumar, went back to India in Lufthansa economy class.

The armyman, however, took it chin up. "I don't want to say anything about this. I am happy for what I am getting," said Vijay.

But boxer Manoj Kumar was more forthcoming on behalf of Vijay.

"It doesn't matter to the player which class he is travelling by, but if senior officials can travel first class, why can't Olympic medallist, who have made the country proud. It reflects poorly on the government. It shows how much they care about the country's real heroes," said Manoj.

"I couldn't win a medal so I am not asking for myself. But yes, at least the Olympic medal winners should be given this facility."

As per government guidelines, all athletes to the London Games were issued economy class tickets. Some of them however did get to travel business class, but that was when the airlines made exceptions and upgraded them. Like the way the British Airways had upgraded our boxers to business class after boarding on their way to London because seats were available.

Walker Baljinder Singh echoed Manoj's views that at least the medallists should be given the best of facilities.

"After coming to the Olympics we came to know how difficult it's to finish on the

podium. So, they should be treated as extraordinary citizens and sending them in business class should not be a problem," the walker said.

"Just check in which class the cricketers travel."