By: Shehan Daniel reporting from Tokyo , Japan
The National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) has come under fire on social media, after athletes representing the country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics appeared in their events sans any indication of Sri Lanka on their attire.
Pictures of Niluka Karunaratne, Aniqah Gaffoor and Tehani Egodawela competing on the opening day of the games with non descriptive attire, were widely circulated on social media, with questions asked to why the NOCSL had not provided them with clothing representative of country.
Later images of Milka Gehani were also circulated where she had no indication to the country on the yellow leotard she wore in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics events on Sunday.
In comparisons, athletes of other countries were shown with uniforms that had both name and country, and questions asked why the NOCSL could not afford the same privilege to its athletes.
NOCSL President Suresh Subramaniam told the Daily Mirror, that the process of having a national flag or any other emblem on an Olympic athletes kit required prior approval.
“There are a lot of rules and regulations to get a kit approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC),” NOCSL President Suresh Subramaniam told the Daily Mirror.
“Especially when it comes to athletes wearing sponsored gear, you need to get clearance from the IOC and their marketing departments to ensure there are no conflicts with the official sponsors of the games. That’s process has to start six months before the Olympics, and at that stage we didn’t even know who would qualify for the Olympics,” Subramaniam said.
“We also can’t tell athletes what to wear, because some of them have preference to wear what they are comfortable in,” Subramaniam added.
Swimming coach Manoj Abeysinghe meanwhile, also commented on the issue, saying that Matthew Abeysinghe would not be wear a cap with the Sri Lanka flag on it. “For swimming the IOC provides the suit, cap and goggles. These suits cannot be manufactured locally for technical reasons too complicated to explain here. A small mistake will lead to a disqualification due to non conformation to FINA standards. We expected the cap to have the flag like in Rio, but Speedo hasn't done that this time. Only found out when we reached the village and therefore, didn't have enough time to do anything about it,” Abeysinghe wrote on Facebook on the eve of Matthew’s event.