New Delhi. The Indian men’s Hockey team, which just returned home after sharing honors for the first spot with South Korea in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament, was detained at the International Airport here due to security concerns. According to the customs officials, they were found in possession of dangerous wooden sticks, a barred item for international routes where only cricket bats are allowed as an honorary exception.
On being questioned, the players said that they were representing the nation in Hockey. This made the customs officials turn highly suspicious as they had never heard of such a sport before. In fact, one of the officials even joked, “Hah! They say they play a game called hockey! What will we hear next? Women cricket players?” hearing which everyone present at the scene, save the players, burst out into laughter.
However, since the captain of the team and the other players were adamant, the officials decided to check with the Sports Ministry. A very senior official there denied that such a sport even existed and confirmed that Cricket was the only nationally recognized sport. In fact the exact words of the official, who is apparently the President of the Indian Olympic Association, were, “I have been in this position for the past 56 years and I can categorically state that such a sport does not exist in India.”
What made the officials even more suspicious was the fact that the players were carrying a gold plated trophy of some sort. According to one of the officials at the scene, “We kept asking them from where they got the trophy. They said they won some sultan’s cup. Now come on, we all know that the era of sultans is over. What did they take us for, Idiots?”
The issue was eventually sorted out after eight hours, a few hundred phone calls, dozens of photos and a couple of hours worth of corroborative video evidences later, most clinching of which was a video of Priyanka Chopra, where she was asking people to donate hearts to Hockey.
“Why is she asking for our hearts? Have you people suffered any heart attacks recently?” asked a custom official to rather relieved players, who nodded in affirmative and requested the officials to wind up all the formalities and let them go. In their defense, the customs officials claimed that they had never read any media reports or watched anything on TV regarding the Hockey team’s performance.
This is not the first time that such treatment has been meted out to Indian sportspersons. Years ago a certain Vishwanathan Anand was denied entry into India despite having won the World Chess Championship. An emotionally scarred Vishy subsequently relocated to Spain, never to return.