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What will India wear to the Olympics?

It came as another reminder of a possible fashion disaster; at least, for sports buffs in India who love to see their national team look dapper on a world stage. Sections of the media were abuzz yesterday of images of nattily attired models sporting the Ralph Lauren-designed costumes that were meant for the US national team, to be worn at the opening ceremony.

In two week’s time, the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza, the the 30th Olympic Games will be declared open in London. As the Indian contingent, and those from 215 other participating countries enter into the Olympic Stadium, the world’s eyes will be on these sporting heroes and no matter what purists might say, their attire.

The costumes, may we add, is bound to pique the imagination and grab eyeballs across millions of viewers worldwide (combined live and televised audiences). This fashion-ramp-like spectacle has some of the highest television audiences, thanks to an array of eclectic and well-styled costumes that will rub shoulders alongside uber-chic designer wear and alas, a more than a handful eyesores too. What’s alarming is that while India might be sending its biggest contingent to the Games, there is no word or hint yet, of what our national representatives will be wearing at this international arena.

Forget about the Opening Ceremony, there is no word about the very necessary sporting kit to be worn by participating sportspersons on field. Just for the record, we are up against the likes of Stella McCartney (Great Britain) and Giorgio Armani (Italy) and of course, Mr. Lauren’s smart collection for Team USA’s official opening and closing ceremony parade uniforms, as well as a collection of village wear apparel and accessories. May we add here, to the uninitiated, Village Wear apparel here would mean the attire that the team would sport in their free time, off the field, and inside the Olympics Village. Phew.

On May 28 2012, this newspaper had carried a story that highlighted the lack of any initiative from the powers-that-be as far as the national costume and kit was concerned. This of course, would seem the last of the problems that need to be tackled in these times where tennis ‘superstars’ need to be pampered and the lack of funding that may have possibly denied young talent from making it to the Games.

We haven’t learnt our lessons. Clearly. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Indian contingent failed to paint an impressive picture at the opening ceremony owing to their ill fitted and not-so-trendy sherwanis and sarees. A few participants including tennis player Sania Mirza did not even sport the national costume, and instead opted for her games costume. She was quoted in the press as saying that her sari-blouse was badly tailored, as a result of which she had to resort to wearing a tracksuit at the world’s biggest sporting stage.

It was later reported that the contingent was made to wear clothes stitched at the eleventh hour by tailors in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar and Chandni Chowk area, something that even the sportspersons were not very comfortable with.

One shudders to ask the question at this juncture. It’s too late to hazard a guess of what telly audiences in Indian might have to witness as the home contingent walks into London’s Olympic Stadium, come July 27.

Quite simply, we shall be practical, worse, pessimistic, and hope that our sporting heroes will ensure that we savour their accolades on field, instead. For this and a million other debacles that our non-sporting nation has gotten used to, we’ll forgive the wardrobe malfunction on field.

— The writer is Features Editor, MiD DAY¬†

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