Reddit’s dogecoin community continued its impressive run of charitable giving on 29th January when it raised 4.2m dogecoin, roughly $7,000 at press time, to help India’s underfunded winter Olympians raise money for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
A donation address was launched Thursday in response to an article in The Washington Post that chronicled the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) suspension of the Indian Olympic Association, and what this action would mean for three Olympic hopefuls set to compete in the games.
The piece focused on charismatic Indian luger Shiva Keshavan, who for years has financed his training with donations, built luges in his garage and practiced on India’s roadways because the country has no official luge track.
The article brought awareness to Keshavan, as well as alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal, the latter of which were said to be struggling to gain financial support needed for the games. Keshavan, the story said, had already secured his funds.
As of press time, the donation address had received 475 donations, the largest of which was a single donation of 3m dogecoin, or about $4,500. However, how the funding will make it into the hands of the Olympic hopefuls remains unclear.
Even after an impressive round of donations, exactly who the funding will benefit is uncertain, according to Ben Doernberg of the Dogecoin Foundation. Doernberg said he’s been in touch with Keshavan’s wife, as well as the secretary general of the Winter Games Federation of India via email about the developing matter.
Doernberg’s sources indicated that the two skiers had received funding for their trip, but that Keshavan had not. However, it is still waiting for confirmation on the final total needed and whom the proceeds will go to.
“We’re basically holding onto the money in dogecoin form until we can figure out which athletes definitely need the money and how we can get it to them in a way that won’t get tied up in a bureaucratic process that’s going to take weeks,” Doernberg said.
Doernberg said the group is even considering enlisting the help of the Jamaican bobsled team in facilitating the transfer in person at the games – the group recently donated $30,000 worth of dogecoins to help secure its visit to the Sochi games.
To those who made donations, Doernberg says his organization will hold the funds until it’s confirmed that they can be directed to the right sources, though he admitted communication with the athletes, all of whom live in remote areas, has been a problem.
Could the Olympians fly dogecoin’s flag?
The India Olympic Committe was suspended in December 2012 by the IOC for electing Lalit Bhanot as its secretary general. Bhanot had pending criminal charges and had earlier spent 10 months in jail following corruption charges stemming from his supervision of the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
After the organization failed to come back into compliance with the IOC’s policies, the three Olympians were barred from carrying the Indian flag, bearing their country’s colors or hearing their national anthem at the event. India’s Olympic Association agreed to hold new elections, but scheduled the vote for 9th February, after the games open.
“It’s quite sad. Rather than showcasing our country, it will be a shameful moment in the history of our country’s sport,” Keshavan told the Post.
If this action sounds surprising, the India Olympic Association’s interim president Vijay Kumar Malhotra hasn’t exactly been supportive of the athletes either in statements to the press:
“Yes, it is sad that this is the first time ever that the Indian contingent will not be carrying the national flag during the Winter Olympics. However, the Indian Winter Olympics athletes don’t stand a chance of winning any medals, either,” Malhotra said.
Members of dogecoin reddit forums went so far as to suggest that the Olympians fly dogecoin’s flag instead, however, questions remained about whether this would be allowed under IOC rules.
Dogecoin to the rescue
While the Olympic projects sprang forth organically from the dogecoin community, Doernberg said the Dogecoin Foundation has bigger projects in store for February.
“We’re going to be doing a fundraiser more for people who are in serious need. The Olympic project is great, and you know, in keeping with the fun and zany attitude of the coin, but we’re also looking to do more serious charity projects.”
As for this project, Doernberg said that he’s confident in the messages he’s received from Keshavan’s wife and Winter Games Federation of India and that any concerns of fraud are unwarranted.
He said he is optimistic the Dogecoin Foundation will be able to find a way to get the funds to the Indian Olympians, regardless of which athlete needs the added support.
Wow Shibe image via Shutterstock