Kalmadi tries damage control dress fiasco at marchpast

August 9th, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, August 9 (IANS) The Indian contingent went on the defensive Saturday as it sought to control the damage caused by the shoddy attire of some of the sportspersons at the Opening Ceremony marchpast Friday. While all the men in the contingent wore sherwanis and achkans, some of the women members, notably Sania Mirza and her doubles partner, Sunitha Rao, turned out in black trousers and what seemed like training jackets.

Suresh Kalmadi, President of the Indian Olympic Association sought to play down the controversy saying, “They (Sania and Sunitha) came straight from training. We had arranged for colourful (different colour) sarees for the women and achkans for the men. When they came, the chef-de-mission, K. Murugan had the choice of either allowing them in that same dress or not having them at the marchpast, since there was no time for them to go back and change. He asked them to come as it is, or else people would have said they were not allowed to go into march past. It is no big deal as it is being made out.”

There has been talk about dresses being ill-fitting and the sarees looking out of sync with different colours, but Kalmadi dismissed all that. He said the green saree, which Neha Aggarwal wore, was one of the colours distributed to the women participants.

“We had different coloured sarees as we wanted them to look colourful.”

He also said that Sonia Gandhi had visited the Olympic Village and encouraged the Indian contingent.

He moved onto the performance and said, “Our shooters did not have ammunition for such a long while, so it is bound to affect their performance.”

Kalmadi said, though he did not expect too many medals, India’s performance will improve in the future because of the Rs. 700 crore budget which has been sanctioned for training purposes for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

He said he and his team are meeting a lot of people to discuss how to get more expertise for the Delhi Commonwealt Games. “For TV production we will have collaborations with foreign production houses, who have more experience. Of course we will also be doing some production but we will also seek overseas expertise.”

“We are also meeting many more people over the next few weeks and our officials, about 50 in number, who have come here as Observers are also meeting and learning from those who have been part of various organising committees elsewhere,” he added.

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