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Tokyo 2020

Why did Sony show Anurag Thakur in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony?

Robbing the limelight from the Indian contingent at the Opening Ceremony, broadcasters Sony spent a moment too long on Anurag Thakur. We wonder why.

The Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics

The Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics (Source:Twitter)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 24 July 2021 1:15 AM GMT

It has been an impatient wait for the Tokyo Olympics to take off and as millions of Indians tuned in to watch the Opening Ceremony of the much-awaited Games come to life, little did they know that they would be headed for a major disappointment.

India, who has sent their largest-ever contingent to the Tokyo Olympics this time around with as many as 127 athletes participating in 18 sports under the tricolour, had a 26-member squad comprising 20 players and 6 officials who would walk at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Led by boxer MC Mary Kom and Men's Hockey captain Manpreet Singh who were the flag bearers for this edition of the Olympics, people waited with bated breath to watch the star-studded Indian contingent march onto their screens.

Just as the colourful contingent of Iran walked past - there was a resounding cheer from the programme commentator's side as the Indian squad swept into view...but, oh, wait, hold on - without lingering for even a brief moment, the screen on our Sony platforms - both television as well as OTT, split into half - dividing itself into squares.

An unjust act at the Tokyo Olympics?

On the one hand, to the left the screen immediately minimized and reduced to a feeble half where barely half the 26-member strong contingent of India for the Opening ceremony struggled to fit themselves and on the other a beaming Anurag Thakur, the newly appointed Sports Minister of India languished and waved the Indian flag.

We waited...for Sony to switch back and focus on the moment that really matters - the Indian athletes who are going to battle it out for the medals over the next 17 days but...no, the screen remained torn in-between two.

There were sharp questions that began to stare at us - Indian viewers watched in disbelief as the screen stayed that way for the entirety of the span when the Indian Olympic athletes did the walk.

Anurag Thakur, who just took over from Kiren Rijiju occupied a spacious half of the screen while the people for whom the Olympics is what it is for the country - fought for their space on the screen. If this isn't the most ridiculous hypocrisy in recent broadcast media history, we don't know what is.

Countless viewers missed out on experiencing the full goosebumps of watching the Indian players walk in the Opening Ceremony as their attention was diverted by the smiling all-too-wide face of the Sports Minister to the right of their screens.

Horribly tampering with a most crucial and emotional moment in the history of sports in general - given that this is the greatest stage of sporting glory, Sony played literal spoilsport by apparently, trying to please both parties and ending up angering the larger mass.

Twitter erupted in no time as Indian viewers - who had waited for this moment since the day the 2016 Rio Olympics Opening brought down its curtains, spilled their minds out on the social platform. But, it does make us ponder - why did Sony decide to indulge in this bipartite act. Is it trying too hard to please the Indian government with this apparent generosity of ill-given screen time, one wonders.

All in all, this snafu stole the limelight from those most deserving, those who have sacrificed, battled a pandemic, overcome countless hurdles, sweated blood and tears to reach the Tokyo Olympics did not get their due, right on the very first day of the Games. And, this, will be a jarring memory for days to come.

However Doordarshan managed to save grace and did not indulge in this and the focus remained solely on the athletes. Take a moment now to see the Indians proudly parade in their shining armour at the Tokyo Olympics, free from the intrusion of 'others'.

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