London: A lady unknown to even Indian acting chef de mission PK Muralidharan Raja walked next to flag bearer Sushil Kumar for the entire lap of the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony.
Just after the Indian contingent, comprising 40 athletes and 11 officials entered the stadium, it was surprising to see an unidentified lady, wearing a red jacket and turquoise blue tights, also walk right at the front. The first impression was that it was an Indian athlete who had perhaps not been given her uniform.
However, on Saturday Raja lambasted the organising committee. “It was an eyesore and she spoilt the entire Indian march past. Before entering the arena, the identity card of each Indian athlete and official was checked by security. I think there should be an inquiry into how this lapse took place and the LOCOG has to explain to India,” Raja told MAIL TODAY.
The chef de mission said there was another man with her outside the stadium. “But he then stayed back,” said Raja. Considering the tight security in place, one wonders how this lady mustered the courage to walk right in front as if she was nominated by the Indian contingent. Raja stressed that they would take up the issue with LOCOG.
“I have been getting phone calls from the world over as to how someone just walked along with the contingent and looked out of sync with our dress code. It’s very irritating,” he said. Raja added that they would be writing to organisers that the woman could have been an ‘intruder’.
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The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is upset that someone strayed into the march past and it could actually have security implications as well. In the past, Indian athletes have walked into the stadium in different attires. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Sania Mirza came in for a lot of flak as she took part in the march past wearing jeans.
However this time around, the IOA made sure everybody at the ceremony conformed to the dress code.
Another big change from the previous editions was how several athletes gave the opening ceremony a miss.
Meanwhile, an Indian newspaper Deccan Chronicle said the mystery lady's name is Madhura Honey, a post-graduate from Bengaluru. Her LinkedIn profile shows her name as Madhura Nagendra.
The daily reported her friend from the college was also baffled seeing her with the Indian contingent. She has been living in London and before she went with the Indian team, she had displayed her Olympic passes on her Facebook account. But once this became an issue, she had deactivated her Facebook account.
London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe told a news conference on Sunday the woman was a member of the cast from the extravaganza but should not have been with the athletes.
"She made it into the opening ceremony. She obviously should not have been there," Coe said. "I can now confirm that she was a cast member. She was slightly over excited."
[S. Kannan, Mail Today and Agencies].