Carrying the torch

The world’s largest sports carnival, the Olympic Games, on Sunday drew to a close after sixteen days of packed schedules which featured well over 300 events. China, the host, executed both start and finish in a grand style — the stupendous organisation, as well as its own spectacular medal haul, dislodging the United States as the world’s new sporting superpower with 51 golds as against its closest rival’s 36. However, China came up on top not at the cost of America, whose medal tally in Beijing was not less impressive than that in Athens. The Olympians will meet again four years hence in London. The 29th Beijing Olympics also made history in that an Asian country for the first time topped the medal tally. However, loss and win come and go in the life of a nation, as also of an individual. What is of greater importance is the recapturing of the Olympic spirit - not only of individuals and nations going higher, faster and further in what human perseverance, practice, skill and endurance can achieve, but of them fostering healthy competition and brotherhood, ever trying to come closer to the One World, One Dream, the aptly chosen motto of the Beijing Olympics.

Forty new world records and more than 100 Olympic records were set in Beijing. Eighty-seven won one or the other medal out of 204 participating countries, and 117 drew a blank, including Nepal. Though South Asia, with a population of about 1.5 billion, is not strong on sports, India’s win of a gold and two bronzes, along with Afghanistan’s single bronze, has been the region’s only consolation. A three-dozen-strong Nepali contingent, with only eight athletes, have returned home disappointed. Four males and four females represented Nepal - two in athletics, one in tae kwon do, one in judo, one in shooting, two in swimming, and one in weightlifting. Only one of five in sports where personal timing and marks count — Kamal Bahadur Adhikari, the national title-holder — bettered his own national weightlifting record, the other four could not improve even their personal marks. In judo and tae kwon do, too, the results were unenviable.

It is less the players than those responsible for promoting sports that are to blame for the continuation of dismal performance. Nobody expected Nepal to win a prize, but it would certainly have been a matter of satisfaction if Nepali athletes had improved on their past scorecards. Lack of accountability in people holding leadership roles in sports organisations and the rampant practice of nepotism and favouritism in sports bodies are among the chief causes of the poor state of sports in the country. Successive governments have promoted these undesirable practices and tendencies. The anarchy in the sports sector is testified by the fact that in several national sports associations, rival groups have claimed to be the only legitimate body of office bearers, hence hitting the development of those sports hard. Besides, consistent poor performance does not lead to the resignation or dismissal of those responsible. This lawlessness and state of unaccountability must end. It is hoped the creation of a separate ministry of youth and sports will take care of these evils.