Walking and waiting in line for almost an hour, huddling to get a good seat to see their “idols”— for the NCC cadets, many of whom were school children, looking at the 32 athletes from the Tokyo Olympics was the highlight of the Independence Day ceremony at Red Fort. Some got lucky and managed to take selfies with the Olympians.
Unlike last year, school children were allowed to attend the event.
“I remember my parents getting a call from our teacher about the invite. I have attended the event before, but today was different. I saw Mary Kom. Some of my friends also clicked photos with other athletes. We saw Modi ji and other ministers too. It felt good,” said Jayesh, one of the NCC cadets.
This year, the athletes, their coaches, and other members from the Sports authority were provided with a special block at the venue.
According to police, more than 500 NCC cadets were invited to attend the event. Many of them also participated in the choir group that sang patriotic songs. The children wore white polo shorts and donned orange hats.
Suraj Jain, who studies at a Delhi government school in Jasola Vihar, said, “We were sitting right behind the athletes. I was so excited. Though I didn’t carry a phone, my friends and I clicked selfies with Mary Kom and saw Mirabai Chanu pass by. My parents are also very excited…”
The children arrived at the venue at 6.20 am and were also provided with a separate block.
Said Mukul Tiwari, another student, “I loved looking at the murals and paintings… they were beautiful. It was really hot, but I was excited when PM Modi got down from the rampart. He walked near us and waved at me. I also saw gold medallist Neeraj Chopra and tried to click a selfie but he was surrounded by a lot of Armymen. I am still happy.”