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Nozomi Okuhara’s nightmare in India: fleeced by cabbie, Long wait at airport, 4-hour-long wait in hotel lobby

SportsNozomi Okuhara’s nightmare in India: fleeced by cabbie, Long wait at airport, 4-hour-long wait in hotel lobby

Nozomi Okuhara’s nightmare in India: This follows certain ‘problems’ foreign players posted. At tournaments in Lucknow and Guwahati the last two weeks.

Nozomi Okuhara’s complains follow certain ‘problems’ that other foreign players had posted about, at tournaments in Lucknow and Guwahati the last two weeks.
Former World champion and Olympic medallist, Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara has narrated her allegedly nightmarish experience when she arrived in India for the Odisha Open badminton Super 100, including an anxious time during the stopover in Delhi and trouble checking into a hotel in Cuttack.

Okuhara, a former World No.1, posted about the problems she had in hailing a cab at Delhi airport and having to wait for more than four hours to check into a Cuttack hotel, on fansnet.jp. “The full story of harsh travel in India. I was prepared for it, but due to a series of problems, it was a physically and mentally demanding journey. I think I can survive somehow with the help of (PV) Sindhu and (HS) Prannoy! Well, it was the worst itinerary ever,” the post read.

The Badminton Association of India has been contacted for comment and a response awaited.

Experience with stranger

Having a stranger forcibly try to put her bags on a luggage trolley at Delhi airport without her permission, Okuhara wrote next of being allegedly fleeced by a private taxi for 10 times the usual Uber fare. Made to wait in a hotel lobby for four hours till her bookings could be sorted out in Cuttack, and having to seek help from Sindhu and Prannoy because there was no shuttle bus for her 8 am practice session completed her two-day ordeal.

Okuhara had won the Super 300 in Lucknow, and was back in India after a week to play the Odisha Super 100, as she pursues a comeback and chases ranking points for Olympic qualification.

The Japanese travelled via Hong Kong to Delhi. She was to arrive in Delhi, stay at a hotel near the airport for one night, and then travel to Odisha, the venue for the event, the next day. The Delhi hotel was a 10-minute drive from the airport, and she was instructed to take a taxi.

Nozomi Okuhara’s nightmare post (translated from Japanese) read: She have bad memories at Indian airports in the past. When she got out of the airport, a stranger started putting my luggage onto the cart without permission. she got scared and stopped, but he said something along the lines of ‘she’ll take it to the entrance.’ Feeling uneasy, she continued to the entrance.

When Okuhara book an Uber

Okuhara would book an Uber, but it never reached her. “During that time, a number of suspicious-looking taxi people approached me, but I kept ignoring them, thinking, ‘Absolutely not.’ However, I wanted to know where Uber was displayed, so I talked to a guy who seemed a little kind. He said, ‘Uber is not allowed inside, so you have to go outside.’ It was late at night and I had baggage. I was discussing with (sparring coach) Mr. Beppu, and the guy asked me, ‘How far are you going? You can take a taxi,’ he suggested.”

The cabbie had agreed to accept a credit card when she asked, but no machine was in sight, Okuhara said.

The amount agreed upon was INR 1,344 (2400 yen), allegedly six times the Uber fare. She was told she had to pay an additional toll that would be INR 1,890 in all. She received a ‘toll receipt’. “I had no choice but to pay.” She said she eventually shelled out 4,000 yen, which was 10 times the Uber fare. “Ah, I thought I had been fooled completely, but I was able to arrive safely at the hotel with my luggage, so I’m glad,” Okuhara wrote.

when Okuhara landed in Cuttack

She was in for more trouble when she landed in Cuttack. “Although we had requested to arrange transportation from the airport to the hotel, there has been no contact from the Indian side.” This was Nozomi Okuhara’s nightmare.

Upon reaching the hotel she was asked to head to, she had to wait in the lobby for four hours as no rooms were available. Frantic calls would be made. “Then, a person from the Indian Association came out from inside the hotel and said, ‘Nozomi, I’d like to take a photo’.”

She was too flabbergasted for a selfie. “’Wait a minute. We’re not alright right now, and we haven’t made a reservation and there’s no hotel to stay at. Can you do something about it?’ I asked for help.”

Sindhu, whom she had contacted, would volunteer to find her another hotel. By then, the Japanese federation would link up with the Badminton Association of India, and would find Okuhara and her coach rooms at a hotel where the Indonesians were put up, reaching there after 30 minutes.

Even though Okuhara was occupying the sofa in the lobby for four hours at that first hotel, she was really helped by the kindness of the hotel staff who even gave me water at the end without saying a word. This is wrote by Okuhara.

Okuhara would book the practice courts for the next day at 8 am, coordinating with the local organisers. However, she was told that the first shuttle bus would arrive at 9 o’clock, so she asked for one at 7 o’clock, but there was no reply. This was Nozomi Okuhara’s nightmare.

Okuhara said Prannoy and Sindhu would help convince the hotel staff to allot her a car for the remainder of the week.

“I’m relieved that I’ve managed to get to the point where I can play, and I’m planning to rest my tiredness a little bit today and tomorrow. India has a wide range, from random people to kind people, so even if you don’t want to doubt someone, you may end up doubting them, or you may feel like you’re being rude and a not-so-nice person. Even in such a situation, I am truly grateful to the manager and JTB who supported me until the end, the hotel staff and tournament staff who were kind to me, and Prannoy who contacted Sindhu this morning and confirmed the hotel transport,” the post read.

What have been the other complaints in the past?

India’s organisational woes over the last three weeks across three cities have been highlighted by various international shuttlers.

  • On December 7, Malaysian Soong Joo Ven posted a video on X, of muddy brown water coming from a basin faucet at his hotel in Guwahati for the Masters Super 100. “Imagine showering and brushing your teeth with this water here in India!!!” he tweeted.
  • At the start of the Lucknow tournament on December 1, Soong faced hassles reaching the stadium and had to jump over highway dividers to reach an alternate car on the other side of the road. “From what was supposed to be a 20-min ride to the venue, it turned into being stuck in traffic for more than an hour because the official driver decided to take a totally different route compared to what we used the past few days. In the end, the LO (local organiser) had to come get me out of traffic and we had to run to another route by crossing big roads and crossing over highway dividers just to get into another car, braving some dangerous driving too. Ended up being extremely nauseous after that insane journey + mad driving.”
  • Two days before the start of the Syed Modi International, Jessica Tan of Singapore posted pictures of bird poop on the playing courts in Lucknow. She wrote: Super interesting court test. There were birds flying in the hall and bird droppings all over the court.

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