'IOA should learn their lessons from suspension'
The Indian sports fraternity heaved a sigh of relief on the country's return to the Olympic fold but said the IOA should learn a lesson from the 14 months of suspension so that the embarrassing episode is never repeated.
The International Olympic Committee lifted the ban imposed on India in December 2012 after the IOA held elections on Sunday in compliance with the IOC directives.
The Indian athletes had to compete under the banner of international federations or the IOC during the 14-month period of suspension. Three Indians walked under the IOC flag during the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony on February 7.
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said in the last 14 months of exile "a major step has been taken to clean up Indian sports".
"In the last one year or so the sportspersons, sports lovers have raised their concerns and their voices. The Government of India had raised its voice in Lausanne (in May last year) and at other forums for lifting ban on India," he said.
Image: Jitendra Singh
'Happy that athletes can now represent the country'
Hockey Olympian Aslam Sher Khan, who is also president of Olympians Association of India, said the new office-bearers of the IOA should work to usher in a new era in Indian sports.
"The new office-bearers of the IOA should learn a lesson from the suspension. They should usher in a new era in India sports by working for the welfare of the athletes," he said.
"I hope the IOA is not just a body to send Indian athletes for international events. It should involve itself in the overall development of Indian sports," he added.
The 2008 and 2012 Olympics medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar said he was happy that the three Indian athletes will now be able to walk under the tri-colour during the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games on February 23.
"It's a great day for all the athletes who put their blood, sweat and tears to represent the country under the Indian tri-colour and win medals. It's time for everyone to get ready for Commonwealth and Asian Games because now we can participate under the tri-colour and not as independent athletes under the IOC flag," Sushil said.
"I am happy for Shiva Keshavan and the other two athletes who can now represent the country at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Games. My humble request to all the officials is we don't want a repeat of the Sochi Olympics," Sushil said.
"The ban should not have happened at all in first place. All this brought disrepute to our country. It was really disappointing. But, now I can hope it's a new beginning. Now it's time to work together and build a better tomorrow."
Image: ndependent Olympic Indian participants walk at the opening ceremony with the Olympic flag
Photographs: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
'Should now prepare for the upcoming CWG and Asian Games'
The 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze-medallist boxer Vijender Singh said the country should now prepare for the upcoming Commonwealth and Asian Games.
"A new administration has come in place in the IOA and I hope this would herald a new era in Indian sports. I am an optimist who believes that everything happens for the best and this is how I feel about Indian sports situation right now," he said.
"I am very happy that the ban has been lifted and we can get back to competing under the national flag. It is a happy moment for Indian sports. Hopefully, we would only go forward from now on for the important events ahead."
London Olympics bronze-medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt said it's time to work for a better Indian sports.
"We should now concentrate on the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Our aim should be to bring as many medals as possible from the CWG, Asian Games. I have high hopes from the newly-elected IOA regime. I want them to work for the betterment of the athletes. Let's forget about the past and work for a better future," he said.
Image: Vijender Singh
'A different feeling to represent your country'
Former 'sprint queen' P T Usha said she was happy that Indian athletes will again be able to compete in international events under the tri-colour.
"It's always a different feeling to represent your country whether it's Olympics, Asian Games or the Commonwealth Games. How would you get the inspiration to compete as an Independent Athlete. I felt sorry for the three Indians in the Winter Olympics," she said.
"Now the ban has been lifted. It's good news for India and Indian athletes. We should now concentrate on the important events coming up."
Image: PT Usha