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Paris Olympics: PV Sindhu & Sharath Kamal Chosen As Indian Flagbearers

Badminton legend PV Sindhu and table tennis champion Sharath Kamal have been chosen as the flagbearers for India in the opening ceremony at the 2024 Olympics on July 26.

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Tanya Savkoor
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The Summer Olympics 2024 in Paris is just around the corner and the nation is holding its breath as Indian athletes prepare to take on the grand stage. According to reports, badminton legend P V Sindhu and table tennis star Sharath Kamal have been chosen as the flagbearers for India in the opening ceremony of the sporting event beginning on July 26. Meanwhile, sport shooter Gagan Narang has been chosen to replace MC Mary Kom as the Chef-de-Mission of the Indian contingent.

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PV Sindhu is the only Indian woman athlete to have won two Olympic medals. She grabbed the silver medal in the women's singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics and followed that with a bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Games. At the Tokyo Olympics 2021, boxer Mary Kom and hockey player Manpreet Singh were India's flagbearers.

Indian Athletes To Sport Ethnic Wear At Opening Ceremony

The saree as a ceremonial uniform for Indian women athletes at a sporting event was last seen eight years ago, at the Rio Olympics 2016. However, the traditional six yards is marking a comeback with a different twist at the upcoming Summer Olympics 2024 in Paris, according to reports. 

Fashion mogul Tarun Tahiliani has designed pre-pleated ikat sarees for women and a kurta-bundi set for men representing India at the Paris Games. “This ceremonial dress beautifully combines classic Indian style with a modern, athletic touch," Tahiliani said in a statement on Instagram.

The fashion designer said, "The kurta-bandi set is crafted from lightweight moss cotton, ensuring breathability and comfort. The saree, a symbol of grace and cultural identity, is reimagined in viscose crepe for a natural drape and breathability, ensuring our athletes feel both elegant and comfortable."

The athletes are poised to showcase not only their athletic prowess but also the cultural richness of India at the Paris Olympics 2024. The saree was discontinued after the 2016 Olympics to give way for salwar suits for women athletes at international sporting events like the Common Wealth Games and Asian Games.

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At the previous Olympics (Tokyo 2021), the women wore a golden salwar kameez with a jacket, while men wore blazers over matching format trousers along with head turbans. This year, the Government of India pushed for traditional attire, where women would wear sarees while men would don sport bandi jackets with kurta-pyjamas. The uniforms will have the impression of the Indian flag and IOA logo. 

According to a report in the Times of India, the sarees have been given an upgrade from the last time, going pre-draped to provide the utmost comfort to the athletes. The uniforms are also reportedly handcrafted and the ikat tie-dyed fabrics have undergone a "meticulous process of resist dyeing, resulting in intricate patterns," the report stated.

Indian athletes to have their own pavilion

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For the first time in Olympic history, Indian athletes will have their own pavilion, the India House, at the Paris Games 2024. The initiative was introduced by Reliance Foundation in partnership with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), marking the country's consistent commitment to sports. According to reports, the India House will be located at the heart of the Games' designated "Park of Nations," Parc de la Villette, alongside pavilions from other participating countries.

The India House aims to serve as a home base for Indian athletes, a hub for fans to connect, and a window into India's rich cultural tapestry for global visitors, according to Nita Ambani, Chairperson of Reliance Foundation and member of the International Olympic Committee.

She describes it as "a space where we will honour our athletes, celebrate our wins, share our stories, and welcome the world to India." She said in an Instagram video, "We truly hope that India House will be one more step towards fulfilling the shared dream of 1.4 billion Indians to bring the Olympic Movement to India!"

Sleep Coach For Indian Olympians

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In another historic moment, a sleep trainer will accompany the Indian contingent at the Paris Games as part of the sports science team to ensure the athletes get sufficient rest. From July 26 to August 11, an Indian sleep coach, Dr Monika Sharma, would take on the responsibility of making sure the athletes are not sleep-deprived ahead of their big game.

Dr Sharma told the news organisation Indian Express, "The aim essentially is to develop an environment which is sleep conducive. The Olympic Village is a stressful environment; not ideal sleeping conditions. We will support and help the athletes in coping with the challenges and mitigate their consequences." 

Moreover, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)-appointed medical team is reportedly installing sleeping pods inside the Games Village, giving the athletes exclusive access. The contingent will also be given a ‘travel sleeping kit' containing sleep masks, travel pillows and ear plugs, among other things to ensure the athletes have a comfortable and restful sleep. 

The Paris Olympics 2024 has been scheduled for July 26, 2024, to August, and athletes and para-athletes across the country are bringing their A-game and making a striking impression at qualification events. Sporting communities all over India are set to showcase their skills and national pride on the international stage. 

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