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Subcontinental Drift: Olympic Shame
What ails South Asia's athletes? You tell me!

August 31, 2000
Web posted at 11:00 a.m. Hong Kong time, 11:00 p.m. EDT

And now for something completely different. Over the past few months, this column (not to mention the attached bulletin board) has dealt mainly with Kashmir. That ancient dispute will, regrettably, remain the focus of Subcontinental Drift's attention for months -- years -- to come. But for the next couple of weeks, I'd like to put it to one side and, like hundreds of millions of people all over the world, get into the Olympic spirit. I invite you to do the same.

Subcontinental Drift: Justifying Hate
Faux theories fail to explain the Kashmir dispute
- Thursday, August 24, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Mirage in the Mountains
How Hizb-ul-Mujahideen used its ceasefire to play politics
- Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Hair-Trigger
Why the cease-fire in Kashmir cannot last
- Thursday, August 3, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Trials and Errors
Justice isn't served by scared judges and politicians
- Thursday, July 27, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Second Affront
Christians vs. Bigots II -- Islamic bombers join Hindu mobs
- Thursday, July 20, 2000

The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek
The Sydney Games are nearly upon us. For sports lovers, this promises to be a month of high excitement. For most South Asians, it will be one of acute embarrassment. The subcontinent's Olympic record makes for dismal reading. The region boasts a fifth of the world's population, but its representatives will be hard-pressed to bring home a single gold medal from Down Under.

The Subcontinental Drift message board -- sound-off about the news in South Asia to TIME
In Atlanta four years ago, India won a solitary bronze, while Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka got wooden spoons. In Barcelona in 1992, Pakistan got (you guessed it) a bronze; the rest came home empty handed. Indeed, you have to go back to 1984 and Los Angeles for the last time a South Asian nation was best at an Olympic sport -- Pakistan, in men's field hockey. For trivia fans, India last won gold in Moscow 1980, but that triumph was tarnished by the fact that most of hockey's powers (Australia, the Netherlands, West Germany, etc) had joined the U.S. boycott of the Games.

Why do our athletes perform so poorly? I've heard all manner of theories -- genetic, racial and economic. I have a notion of my own, but we'll get to that later. (Hint: it involves military history and the caste system.) First, I'd like to hear from you. Go to the above Subcontinental Drift bulletin board and share your theories. The shy types can mail me at (See link below).

The most interesting explanations will be reproduced in this column next week. Brevity is bliss: please keep your submissions down to 300 words apiece, and follow all the usual bulletin-board rules.

So folks, put on your thinking caps. Ready...Set...Write!

The Subcontinental Drift message board -- sound-off about the news in South Asia to TIME
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