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This week the International Olympic Committee has lifted the 14 month suspension of the National Olympic Committee of India. Three Indian athletes attended the opening ceremony under the IOC flag, and can compete under Indian flag. With total number of 26 medals in all the Olympic, India is hardy to become a leader in Sochi. Nevertheless, the presence of Indian athletes here is very important.
First, the status is critical. This is not competition of athletes only, it's a competition of nations. Sochi is the place where even rivaling states have to fairly and peacefully participate in the tournaments. This promotes better mutual relations. Soviet-U.S. hockey games during the Cold war played exactly this role.
In this context, if Muhammad Karim from Pakistan and Indian athletes (participating under their national flag) could not be in Sochi now, the Games didn’t play the positive role in promotion of unique spirit of Olympics in South Asia, and didn’t have a modest but important impact on the mutual relations between India and Pakistan.
Second, sport itself is important. It's becoming more obvious only now in India and Pakistan. During my flight to Islamabad, I enjoyed a Bollywood movie about the Indian sprinter Milkha Singh ("Flying Singh"). This film is a good example of sports promotion in India.
No doubt, the future winter and summer games will see more and more athletes from India and Pakistan. Moreover, these countries have good chances to become leaders in the winter sports. The armed forces of both states will be the most stable source of new champions (don't forget that these countries fought in the armed conflict in the highest place in the war history, the Siachen Glacier). But the interest of all these nations in sport is the necessary condition for new achievements.
Carnegie does not take institutional positions on public policy issues; the views represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Carnegie, its staff, or its trustees.
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