IOA goes ahead with AGM, election despite IOC suspension

Defying the ban imposed by the International Olympic Committee, the IOA today went ahead with its Annual General Meeting and elections, insisting that it had not done anything wrong.

"The house unanimously decided that we did not do anything wrong by going ahead with the election process. We had already communicated to the IOC that the IOA will have to go ahead with the elections under the sports code because of the Delhi High Court order," IOA acting President V K Malhotra told reporters on the sidelines of the AGM here.

"Inspite of this the IOC decided to suspend us, but we will try our level best to get the suspension revoked as soon as possible," he said after the meeting which lasted just over an hour.

"About 85 per cent of the sports federations and state Olympic committees were present in the AGM. And it was a unanimous decision," he said.

Malhotra said the IOA has sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the matter.

"I had already written to the PM to intervene into the matter. We are hoping to sort the issue by sitting together with the representatives of IOC, IOA and the government. We have to find a common ground between the Olympic charter, sports code and the Delhi HC order," he said.

In a major embarrassment for India, the IOC yesterday suspended the IOA because of government interference in its election process.

The IOC said that it decided to ban India as the IOA had failed to comply with Olympic Charter and also allowed a tainted official to contest elections for a top post.

The decision was largely expected after the IOA decided to go ahead with the elections today under the government's Sports Code, defying the IOC's diktat to hold the polls under the Olympic Charter.

Asked about IOC comments in the suspension letter that the IOA failed to enforce principles of ethics and good governance, Malhotra said, "our accounts are audited and financial statements are audited regularly and nothing has been been found against us."

As for the tainted Lalit Bhanot becoming Secretary General of the body to which the IOC had objected to, Malhotra merely stated, "Lalit Bhanot will explain his position."

Meanwhile, top officials of the IOA said they do not have immediate plans to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to challenge the suspension.

"We do not have anything against the IOC as well as the government. We do not have any fight with them, it's the fight between the government and the IOC. So we are not thinking of going to the CAS to challenge the IOC decision," a top IOA official said
"We are planning to meet the PM again as well as the sports ministry officials. We have also sought a meeting with IOC officials in which the government officials should take part as well. We hope the IOC will reconsider its decision after considering all the facts," he said.

The official said the IOA had to go ahead with the AGM despite IOC's objection as it is an organisation under the Registration of Societies Act.

"The term of the current executive committee had expired in October and we cannot delay the election for long. If we do that the administrator under the Act will dissolve the executive board. So a new body will have to be elected under the Indian law," he explained.

"The 2009 IOC Congress in Copenhagen says that national Olympic bodies will have to abide by the law of their respective countries so there is nothing wrong in going ahead with the election under the Delhi HC order", the official said.

Asked about the possible duration of suspension, the official said, "Such suspensions can only be lifted by the executive board or the general body. Normally four executive board (IOC) meetings are held in a year. The next meeting is in February. So we are hoping suspension is lifted as soon as possible."

Interestingly, rival faction in the body, headed by India's IOC representative Randhir Singh, did not take part in the meeting. Neither Randhir nor some of his close associates such as Jagdish Tytler took part in the meeting.

The elections to the IOA have been marred by controversy over the issue of under which framework they would be held and this had led to the resignation of IOA-appointed Election Commission Chairman S Y Quraishi and later presidential candidate Randhir Singh withdrawing from the race.

Taking into account Delhi High Court's order, the Quraishi-led Commission had ruled that the IOA polls would be held under the government's Sports Code, which in turn, invited IOC's directive to the IOA to "exclusively" apply the Olympic Charter and the IOA Constitution.

Quraishi, a former Chief Election Commissioner of India, then stepped down, citing the backtracking by the IOA to apply the Sports Code. Justice (retd) Anil Dev Singh was appointed by the IOA in his place.

Quraishi's resignation led to the postponement of the elections from November 25 to December 5, but a relentless IOC was not happy with the confusion surrounding the code under which the polls would be held.

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