SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Shiva Keshavan and two other athletes are going from indy to India at the Sochi Games.
They entered the Winter Olympics without acknowledgement of their home nation, but will leave with its flag flying in the athletes' village and hopes for better sports governance at home.
"You have a lot more behind you when you go with your country's flag," Keshavan told The Associated Press.
The IOC executive board reinstated the Indian Olympic body Tuesday after it held a weekend ballot that complied with ethics rules barring corruption-tainted officials from running for election. That cleared the way for Keshavan and two more Indian athletes to compete under their national flag for the rest of the Sochi Games.
During the opening ceremony last week, they entered Fisht Stadium as "independent Olympic participants," after talking in the entrance tunnel about the embarrassing situation for the world's second most populous nation, Keshavan said.
"That enthusiasm wasn't there that I generally feel at the opening ceremony," said the 32-year-old, who has competed in every Winter Olympics since 1998. Keshavan finished 37th Sunday in the singles luge, with the highlight of his performance an amazing, bizarre recovery from a training fall that went viral on social networks and news websites.
India was suspended in December 2012 for electing scandal-tainted Abhay Chautala as president and Lalit Bhanot as secretary-general. Bhanot spent 10 months in jail on corruption charges stemming from the organization of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, while Chautala is charged in a recruitment scam not related to sport. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Keshavan, who pledged to return to the luge track at the next Winter Olympics, said he thinks his fellow athletes will be happy, though it's up to them to help make sure the changes stick.
"We have to be vigilant to see that there's actually going to be some change," Keshavan said. "I think all the athletes want to see change and want to see good governance."