Members of Reddit's Dogecoin communtiy have raised 7000 USD in a few hours to send luger Shiva Keshavan, to compete in the Sochi Winter Games when he was unable get financial support from India.
According to a report on International Business Times, a majority of the money came in a single donation of 3 million (approximately 4,300 USD) Dogecoins. Dogecoins are worth less than about a tenth of a cent each, meaning users need to donate a pretty large amount.
Earlier, the same organisation had raised 30,000 USD for the Jamaican bobosled team entirely in Dogecoin, a half-joke, half-serious currency similar to Bitcoin.
Based on the recording donations to the fund, Redditors contributed 4,473,882 Dogecoins to support Keshavan for the Sochi Winter Olympics. Coinmill's cryptocurrency calculator assesses the amount to be 7010 USD, which should help in covering Keshavan's transportation costs.
But the question that comes to mind is why does an athlete like Shiva Keshavan, who has taken part in the Winter Olympics since 1998 when he was a teenager and has also participated in the next three editions that followed, need sponsorship from Dogecoin users, instead of getting financial aid from the Indian Government.
In 2013, the Indian Olympic Association was suspended from competing in the Olympics after violating the International Olympic Committee charter by electing officials with criminal charges. As India was unable to resolve the problem before the commencement of the games, Shiva Keshavan was left to fend for himself. Keshavan, however, can still compete as an independent athlete. He won't be wearing the Indian uniform but a red, gold and yellow cap symbolising his hometown and don a luge suit made of fabric signed by his fans. If India can't support him, at least his fans are not left out.
Such treatment is not something that Keshavan is not used to. India does not have a suitable luge course, so he trains on windy, busy roads in the Himalayas. According to his wife Namita, who had spoken to a Redditor about the issue, he has only got partial support from his country in money matters but never the expenses have never been fully covered.
"There are no facilities or infrastructure in India, which forces him to train abroad, something like the Jamaican team," Namita said.
"It was two months prior to the 2010 Olympic Games and now for the 2014 Games that the government offered support, nothing in the middle. Also, please note that they were part sanctions, which means they only gave him 5-10% of the total amount actually required by him. I write all this for your information, so that it is clear who and why you all are supporting the Indian athletes."
Dogecoin Foundation's Ben Doernberg said that they will continue to raise money for other Indian athletes who cannot compete in the Winter Olympics under the national flag, including alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal.
Story first published on: Saturday, 08 February 2014 05:18 IST