Indian flag to be raised at Olympic Village tomorrow

London: India`s national flag will be unfurled at the Olympic Games Athletes Village tomorrow in the presence of a small group of sportspersons and contingent officials after their request for deferring the flag-raising ceremony was turned down by the organisers.

India had sought a postponement of date for its flag-raising ceremony, which is also called the `Welcoming Ceremony`, so that a larger contingent could be present at the function. But the London Olympic Games organisers refused to sanction any change in the schedule and stuck to the original roster.

The Indian contingent`s Deputy Chef-de-Mission Brigadier P K Muralidharan Raja said the flag-raising ceremony would take place as originally scheduled and a good number of athletes would be present on the occasion. "We`ll have a fair representation of athletes and contingent officials at the flag raising ceremony in the Olympic Village," Brig. Raja said today as he checked the arrangements for the ceremony and also for the other Indian athletes who are arriving in batches from their training venues.

"We wanted a postponement of India`s flag raising ceremony, but the organisers are keen to stick to the original schedule drawn up by them," said Brig. Raja. London Olympic Games Organising Committee (LOCOG) officials told PTI that India were among a number of the nations with similar requests but that would have affected schedule and crowded the date closer to the Opening Ceremony, which is scheduled for July 27.

Raja said he was not aware of any change being permitted by the organisers of the Games. "At the moment it seems that we`ll have around 50 members of the Indian contingent present at the flag-raising ceremony, which should include about 35-40 sportspersons," Raja said. India`s hockey squad, boxers and archers, who are already in the village, will get the pride of place at the ceremony, apart from the few shooters who have already checked into the Village.

Rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra, the country`s first individual gold medallist in Beijing, will not be able to take part in the ceremony as he has left for Germany to continue his training, while a few other shooters may also find that the practice time allocated to them clashes with the ceremony in the Games Village. This may keep a few of them away from the ceremony. Among the boxers, India`s lone woman pugilist, M C Mary Kom will be missing as she is scheduled to arrive in London only after four days.

Several top officials of the Indian Olympic body may not be able to make it as the travel schedule does not bring them to London so soon. The officials are hopeful that Chef-de-Mission Ajitpal Singh, the former Indian hockey captain, will be able to arrive in time for the flag-raising ceremony, or else his deputy Raja will perform the duty.