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September 16, 2000
Hockey team 'no' to opening ceremony
Jaideep Singh in Sydney
The Indian hockey team once again skipped the Olympic Games opening ceremony despite coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran saying the previous day that the entire squad will take part in the march past.
Coach Bhaskaran, who along with team manager K. Jyothikumaran himself took part in the opening ceremony, had said that it was a matter of prestige for anyone to represent his country in the march past and every member of the hockey team would take part this time.
Hockey players during the past decade had been compelled to stay away from the opening ceremony due to compulsions caused by the hockey draw where that had a game to play the following day. But this time India were starting its campaign a day later.
The hockey squad's decision to miss the Opening ceremony was to conserve energy. The decision was compelled by the eight-hour vigil in full gear required for every participant. The players' point of view was accepted by the team management, which was also informed that several other competitors in the Indian delegation had been advised by their coaches to miss out on the march-past.
"The coach was right that it is a matter of pride to take part in the march past, but he too realised this was not the ideal preparation for the grind in front," a player told this correspondent.
"The decision to stay in the village and watch the ceremony on television had the concurrence of all. It wasn't that the coach had been overruled."
Even when the honour of being the flag-bearer was given to the hockey captain, members of the team had been allowed to stay put in their rooms.
The march past participants left the Athletes' Village at 4 p.m. local time for the ceremony that began at 7 p.m. and were not back in their rooms until midnight.
In the end the 50-strong Indian delegation for the march past comprised mainly of officials and coaches with Leander Paes being the flag-bearer.
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