The Indian Olympic Association will be allowed to compete under its own banner after the International Olympic Committee removed the nation's suspension from competition.
As announced by the IOC Executive Board, India will soon have a dedicated Olympics team:
The EB took this decision following a report about the IOA's General Assembly and elections for a new Board, which were successfully held on 9 February 2014 and observed by an IOC delegation headed by IOC member Robin Mitchell.
Originally banned in December 2012 for "electing leaders with criminal charges," per Annie Gowen of The Washington Post, India's representation at the Sochi Winter Olympics were forced to enter the opening ceremony as unaffiliated athletes.
A team of three stars—made up of a luge specialist and two skiers—wouldn't stand tall for the national anthem if they captured a medal, nor could they wear any kind of logo that indicated they were associated with the nation.
Rahul Rawat of the Daily Mail suggested new elections would see the country welcomed "back in the Olympic family" by February 23—which has now been confirmed by the IOC's statement. The Indian trio will now walk behind their flag at the current Games' closing ceremony, marking a month of important change for the IOA.
India joined nations such as post-World War Two Germany and Japan, apartheid-ridden South Africa and war-torn Yugoslavia when the ban was enforced.
As noted by Steve Wilson of the Associated Press, a special ceremony will also take place inside the Olympic Village:
India's acceptance back into the Olympic setup comes after Narayna Ramachandran was elected as uncontested president of the IOA, fresh on the back of campaigning to add squash to the Olympic lineup last year.
Rajeev Mehta and Anil Khanna have taken on the roles of Secretary General and Treasurer, respectively.
While the raising of the flag will undoubtedly throw up huge feelings of emotion for the IOA, its participants and India as a whole, it will also be a major relief to know the country's athletes have something to strive for once again.
Although India's team is unlikely to capture a medal at the Winter Olympics, the nation has earned a key victory away from the ice.
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