After representing India at the 23rd Summer Deaflympics at Samsun in Turkey and returning back with five medals including one gold, the Indian contingent of hearing impaired athletes expected a grand welcome but to their dismay, not even a single person was there to receive them. To protest the lack of recognition, the players and support staff refused to leave Delhi airport.
The contingent, which consists of 46 athletes and support staff, reportedly were not willing to change their stand and wanted to return their medals.
As reported by the news agency ANI, the Indian contingent, tried to register their protest with Minister of Sports, Vijay Goel, however, they were unable to get in touch with him.
"The Indian contingent participated in a total of eight disciplines at the games. Out of those eight disciplines, we won medals in three. We won gold and bronze in wrestling, bronze in lawn tennis and silver in golf," Ketan Shah, team`s interpreter, told ANI.
"The day we won the medals, we told the government that we have made the nation proud. These medal winners made the nation proud, but no one, not even the sports minister, is here to welcome us."
"All we want is either the sports minister or any government official comes here and appreciates our players. We had informed them that we will be coming on August 1, but we haven`t got any reply. We have been trying to contact officials, but we are just being told that they are unavailable," he added.
The athletes staged protest for over six hours before Dilip Singh, a project officer with SAI, reached the airport to receive them.
"We have been informed that in the evening we will be going to Shastri Bhawan, but it is not clear that whether the contingent will be meeting the sports minister or the sports secretary,” said Avinash Gupta father of Deaflympics tennis player Parul Gupta.
"What these players wanted 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 hours at the Nehru Stadium,” added Gupta.
Virender Singh secured gold in the 74kg freestyle wrestling while Ajay Kumar and Sumit Dahiya bagged bronze medals in 65kg anf 97kg respectively. Golfer Diksha Dagar clinched a silver while Prithvi Sekhar and Jafreen Shaik earned bronze in men’s doubles tennis event.