Vijay Goel may have heard of Amitabh Bachchan's blockbuster Zanjeer. In that film, Sher Khan (Pran) is summoned to a police station by inspector Vijay Srivasatav (Bachchan). When Sher Khan pulls a chair and tries to sit down, Vijay kicks the chair and delivers a dialogue that has become a legend: ''Jab tak baithne ko nahin kaha jaye sharafat se khade raho. Ye police station hai, tumhare baap ka ghar nahin."
In short, when not in your father's home, behave.
Goel seems to have forgotten the basic etiquette of a guest at an event like the Olympics. For the past few days, he has been making a caricature of himself at Rio. He has been breaking rules, badgering bone-tired athletes for selfies, entering no-entry areas and lurking around in the arena in the hope of being spotted by cameras if and when India wins a medal.
Sick of his peccadilloes, the organising committee threatened to cancel his accreditation unless he learned to behave. Sarah Peterson, continental manager of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, in a stern missive to India’s sports minister, warned that Goel would be stripped of his accreditation if he did not stop behaving like a VIP.
“We have had multiple reports of your Minister for Sports trying to enter accredited areas at venues with unaccredited individuals. When the staff tried to explain that this is not allowed, they reported that the people with the Minister have become aggressive and rude and sometimes pushed past our staff,” Peterson wrote.
But, Goel's mind has been dancing to the tune of get, set, go — for a selfie. He has his own interpretation of Citius, Altius, Fortius — run fast, jump high over obstacles for selfies and be a strong contender for a medal in stupidity.
This is victory vampirism, a trademark of our publicity-crazy politicians, at its worst. There is nothing more base than feasting on the hard-earned glory of athletes, seeking a pound of their blood and sweat. Unfortunately, this is how Indian sports administrators work. Goel isn't the first to bring disrepute to India with his churlish behaviour.
Nobody knows why Goel is in Rio in the first place. He may be the sports minister of India, but his contribution to the Indian Olympic contingent is zilch. When he became the minister, in July 2016, the Indian squad had already been selected, trained and given all the assistance and encouragement they needed. Goel has gone to Rio only as a tourist, to collect memorabilia and selfies he can show off to gullible voters and family.
And he has shown no respect for our athletes at Rio. As The Indian Express points out, the selfie-ready minister was by boxer Vikas Krishan's side within minutes of his bout. A visibly exhausted Krishan would have preferred some fluids and a massage at the end of the gruelling bout. A few days before that, he was gorging on gymnast Dipa Karmakar's glory, getting himself clicked with the first Indian woman to enter the finals of an individual event.
Frankly, Indian sports administrators are a disgrace to the country. They do everything to harm Indian sports through their greed, incompetence, politics and mismanagement. Managing even a few basic things is difficult for them. Yet, they feed off the money meant for sports, travel business class and stay in expensive hotels while the athletes struggle for basic facilities and equipment.
One ugly example of their ineptitude was the controversy surrounding wrestler Narsingh Yadav's positive dope test just before the contingent left for Rio. As the Wada ruling establishes, Yadav's food/drink were spiked with a banned steroid as part of a conspiracy. This happened at the safest place possible — a camp run by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
Yadav, who was on the verge of being ejected from the contingent, filed a written complaint alleging SAI conspired to keep him out. So far, Goel and his merry bunch of freeloaders have done nothing to identify and punish the culprits.
The problem with Indian politicians like Goel is that they believe in a sense of entitlement — as Zanjeer’s Inspector Vijay would say, baap ka ghar — because of the Indian penchant for rewarding the undeserving. Goel entered Parliament through the Rajya Sabha backdoor. He got the sports ministry so he is bossing around in Rio with his entourage of chamchas, believing it to be his birthright.
Vijay Goel, you have embarrassed the athletes and India enough. Just come back. The Olympics is the final frontier for skill, hardwork, talent, perseverance and the burning desire to win against the odds. That is what win will our athletes medals. They don’t give medals at the Olympics for the fastest finger on a selfie stick.