It was India’s day at Rio even before the Olympic Games began in the Brazilian city. The honour for carrying forward the country’s flag in the Olympic Movement goes to Nita Ambani, sports promoter and founder chairperson of Reliance Foundation.
Nita Ambani was elected as an individual member of the Olympic Committee during the 129th Session of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in Rio on Thursday. She polled the highest percentage (92.20 percent) of valid votes among all eight candidates.
Nita Ambani is the first Indian woman to join the IOC, the supreme body for global sport.
She is involved in promoting multiple sports in India with a focus on developing talent through a number of large-scale grassroots initiatives. The grassroots programmes that she has initiated have reached out to over three million children in multiple sports. She is the architect of Indian Super League (ISL) which has helped in raising the profile of Indian football. Though she also owns the Mumbai Indians IPL cricket team in India, her vision for sports extends beyond cricket, or hopes over the inclusion of India’s most popular game in the Olympics.
Here’s what she said in her statement after the election: “I am truly humbled and overwhelmed to be elected by the IOC. This is a recognition of the growing importance of India in the world stage and a recognition for Indian women."
“I have always believed in the power of sport to shape our youth. I believe that sports brings together communities, cultures, and generations has the power to unify and unite people. I look forward to spreading the spirit of Olympics and sports across our nation,” she added.
"I’m working really with multi-sports in India. We want to encourage many other games besides cricket in India like football and basketball and let children be exposed to all kinds of games,’’ she said. "So I’m looking forward to building a movement in sports for children in India.’’
She thanked the voting members in traditional Indian 'namaste' amid applause from IOC members at the Convention Centre of Windsor Oceanico Hotel.
When she was called to be introduced to the House, IOC President Thomas Bach received her on the podium and posed for a photograph.
Nita Ambani, 52, is the only current active individual member of the IOC from India. Former Indian Olympic Association Secretary General, Randhir Singh, who served as IOC member from India from 2001-2014, is currently an honorary member.
Nita Ambani will serve the IOC until she attains the age of 70.
With inputs from PTI
Disclosure: Reliance Foundation is the social outreach arm of Reliance Industries which own Firstpost through Network18.