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National Sports Day 2021: Have we treated the Indian Athletes at Tokyo Olympics Rightly?

On National Sports Day 2021, let’s dissect Have we treated the Indian Athletes at Tokyo Olympics Rightly?

Sports is one of the most ‘looked down upon’ professions in Indian societies like India. Where over the years, the awareness and encouragement for the perusal of sports as a profession has increased, the sense of acknowledgement and respect sportspeople deserve still remain missing. Besides, some get mocked for their caste and ethnicities, some for the body and some for unusual reasons. If we look around the recent incidents of how some of the Indian athletes performing at the Tokyo Olympics 2021 have been treated, especially by the Indian media, the situation will become saddening. And as it’s National Sports Day 2021, it’s worthy to talk about how Indian Media treated the athletes. But before we move forward, here’s a brief of why National Sports Day is celebrated.

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National Sports Day 2021: National Sports Day is celebrated to honour and commemorate the hockey major Dhyan Chand Singh. 29th August is the birth anniversary of the major and the day is celebrated to raise awareness about the value of physical activities and sports in life. A few days back, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award was renamed after Major Dhyan Chand and the athletes will be receiving the Khel Ratna this year.

Asking not so relevant questions on interviews

Now, talking about how we have treated the athletes, the recent incident of the RJ Malishka and Neeraj Chopra interview which went viral last week. The interview has been problematic on various layers with firstly questions on the objectification of the athlete and secondly, questions on the kind of Journalism Indian Media has been pursuing. The RJ performed a Hindi Classic’s item number, “Udde Jab Jab zulfein teri” in front of Chopra and asked him for a hug through the screen. To this, Chopra appeared visibly uncomfortable. This incident raised decent questions about how the RJ objectified the athlete.

Another incident with Neeraj Chopra that needs to be recalled is an interview with Navika Kumar, where Navika is asking him questions about his marital status, compared him with superstars, talked about his looks and so on.

Posters of politicians in the press conferences of Athletes

When athlete Lovlina Borgohain on July 30 became only the third Indian boxer to clinch an Olympic medal, the press conference promoted the state of Assam with the poster of the Assam politician.

While these were the incidents where athletes were mistreated by the media professionals, there are so many incidents where athletes were not given the deserving value. The saga of discrimination seen in this year’s Olympics has been disappointing. Below are a few incidents –

‘PV Sindhu caste’ became a trending

PV Sindhu made us all proud by winning medals for the country, but some Indians were more interested in learning about her caste since people have different worries when it comes to wins and achievements? Sindhu’s caste was one of the most searched items on Google following her victory at the Tokyo Olympics, according to Google trends. This alarming trend demonstrates how deep-seated caste prejudices still persist.

Vandana Kataria’s Family was abused for being Dalit

Women’s Hockey Player Vandana Katariya has given one of the best performances at the Olympics 2021. The day when India lost the hockey semi-final, two upper caste men abused Vandana’s family in Haridwar, saying the team lost the match because it had too many Dalit players. 

Well, these are some that we have happened to recall from the Tokyo Olympics 2021 and there are so many more. Athletes have been facing discrimination, looked down upon, seen as unworthy, compared, objectified and mistreated for ages no matter what they achieve. And on this National Sports Day, we wish and hope for the athletes to get what they deserve. Their dignity. Their pride. Without any compromise.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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