Deaflympics athletes staged a six-hour protest at New Delhi airport demanding to meet Sports Minister Vijay Goel following the poor reception they received. The Indian contingent, which has won one gold, one silver, and three bronze medals in the tournament is now considering returning the medals.
India’s contingent of hearing impaired athletes, who represented the country at the 23rd Summer Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey, were furious at the underwhelming reception and acknowledgement they faced at Delhi airport on Tuesday. They refused to leave and protested for six hours demanding to meet Sports Minister Vijay Goel.
Project officer and interpreter at All India Sports Council for the Deaf (AISCD), Ketan Sharma informed NDTV that they have been trying to reach the Sports Minister for around a week now.
“We also tried to get in touch with the Director General of the Sports Authority of India and Sports Minister Vijay Goel but they didn’t pay any heed. We had
SAI finally decided to send a representative after the athletes protested for six hours demanding to meet Goel. Dilip Singh, a protject officer with SAI, who then took them to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium promising that they will be taken to Shastri Bhawan in the evening.
Avinash Gupta, father of Deaflympics tennis player Parul Gupta, said, “What these players wanted (was) just a small welcome at the airport and a photograph with the sports minister. But it’s the irony that they have to stage a protest for six hours to meet their demands. And even now meeting with the minister is not yet confirmed and they have to wait for another five-to-six hour(s) at the Nehru Stadium.”
This has been India’s best ever show in the Deaflympics as they finished 26th; winning one gold, one silver, and three bronze medals. The sole gold medal for India was clinched by wrestler Virender Singh in the 74kg freestyle event as he defeated Georgia’s Chakvetadze S 18-9. Diksha Dagar, 16, won India’s silver medal in golf.
While Ajay Kumar and Sumit Dahiya won bronze medals in 65kg and 97kg freestyle wrestling events respectively. The third bronze was won by 18-year-old Jafreen Sheikh in the men's doubles tennis event.
NDTV also reported that the apathy and disregard showed by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has forced the athletes to even consider returning the medals.
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