Official upgrades to Business, athletes travel Economy from Jakarta

In a narrative that is all too familiar when it comes to Indian sports, especially the non-generic ones, it was learnt that athletes returning from The Asian Games in Jakarta were made to travel in Economy class while the officials were given business class seats.

India won a historic tally of 69 medals at the competitive continental tournament, but it seemed that none of it was enough to change the necessary treatment that is meted out to players of this country. Players, on their part, are okay with the arrangement of economy class tickets for them but the problem here lies if officials are upgraded while players are still left in Economy.

“They are here because of us. Not the other way around. I am okay flying economy but not if these officials are given better seats,” said a member of the Indian volleyball team on board SQ 967 from Jakarta to Singapore to PTI.

The official in question here is the deputy Chef de Mission RK Sacheti who flew back home on a business class ticket. However, he later defended himself when questioned said that he was supposed to fly Economy as well, but he then used his Flyer Miles to upgrade himself.

“We too are supposed to fly economy, but I have used my air miles to upgrade,” Sacheti, a top official from Boxing Federation of India (BFI) said.

It must be remembered that Sacheti’s inclusion in the official contingent was met with some resistance from the Sports Ministry but the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had, in the end, cleared him on their own expense.

How convincing rhetoric this is by Sacheti is not up to us to decide, but it is discouraging to see this kind of discrimination in the way the athletes are treated differently from the officials. No one can say that this is the first time this has happened. Let’s hope it will be the last.