IOC bans India over govt role
Meddling in elections costs dear
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday suspended the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) because of ‘government interference’ in its poll process, leaving the Olympic movement in the country in a state of confusion and disarray.
The suspension means that the IOA will stop receiving IOC funding and its officials will be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events. More importantly, the Indian athletes will be barred from competing in Olympic events under the national flag. They, however, can participate under the IOC banner if the parent body takes a lenient view.
The decision to suspend the IOA was taken at the IOC’s Executive Board meeting at Lausanne and it followed several warnings from the world body urging IOA to resolve its issues over the Sports Code with the government. The IOC blamed both the IOA and the government, stating that the IOA elections, scheduled on Wednesday, violated the Olympic Charter as it followed the Sports Code formulated by the government.
The IOC had asked IOA to explain its stand in writing by November 30 and despite the IOA stating that it had not violated the Olympic Charter, the apex body was not convinced. “They are not entitled to have elections and if for some reason they go ahead this will not be recognised,” said IOC’s Pere Miro, in charge of relations with national Olympic committees. The election process has been tarnished since the origin. Many different interferences, many governmental rules and their own bad interpretation of IOA statutes,” Miro said.
The IOA poll process has been marred with infighting between two groups led by Abhay Singh Chautala and Randhir Singh for the presidential post. The latter withdrew his nomination at the last moment, citing the IOC warning that the elections shouldn’t be based on the Sports Code.
The pullout of Randhir and his allies cleared the way for Chautala, who stands unopposed as IOA president. So do the candidates for the posts of senior vice-president (Virendra Nanavati), secretary-general (Lalit Bhanot) and treasurer (Anil Khanna).
A furious Chautala called it a ‘black day’ for the Indian sports and blamed Randhir, who
was the secretary-general, for the mess. Randhir is also a member of the IOC.
Chautala said the IOC has taken a unilateral decision. “It is unfortunate that a democratic country like India has been banned by the IOC. It is not a correct decision. The elections are taking place according to the IOC charter, IOA constitution and the court’s order.” He said athletes will not be affected by the development. “There is enough time to sort out all the issues. IOA would like to assure all the sportspersons that their future will not be affected and we will sort out all the issues.”
The IOA had planned to send its representatives RK Anand and Hockey India secretary-general Narinder Batra to discuss the matter with the IOC. In case IOC does not relent for a meeting, the IOA will have no option but to appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The IOA acting president VK Malhotra said it is a conflict between the government and the IOC.
“We had told the government not to implement the Sports Code. Though we succeeded in stopping the sports bills, they were determined to go ahead with the code,” Malhotra said.
Black day for sports
* Why: The IOC has suspended IOA because of its decision to go ahead with Wednesday’s scheduled elections under government's Sports Code, defying the IOC’s diktat to hold the polls under the Olympic Charter and IOA’s constitution alone.
* What the suspension means: The IOA will stop receiving IOC funding and its officials will be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events. India’s athletes will be barred from competing in Olympic events under their national flag, but if permitted, they can participate under the IOC banner.
* Point of conflict: The Government’s Sports Code insists on age and tenure limits on sports officials. President of a sports federation is allowed a term of 12 years while persons above 70 are not allowed to hold posts.
* IOA opposes the Sports Code which the Delhi High Court has ordered to follow in its polls.
* The IOC refuses to accept any election that does not follow the Olympic Charter and the IOA’s own constitution.