Playing politics

The International Olympic Committee’s decision to suspend the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has come as a logical act in a long-drawn out drama of power struggle in the country’s apex sports body.

For months now, factions in the IOA have been preparing the ground for its elections while wrestling with controls put in by the Union sports ministry. Meanwhile, it chose to ignore messages – first subtle, later more forthright – from the international body and decided to skirt the real issues without realising the consequences.

An adamant approach, defying the commands of the parent body, has resulted in a scenario that has tainted the Olympic movement in the country. The IOC has been clear in its communications that it would not tolerate government interference in the functioning of the national olympic committees.

In India’s case, it is the use of government Sports Code in IOC elections, as directed by the Delhi high court, that has irked the IOC. The provisions of the code, including restrictions on age and tenure of sports officials, do not in itself violate IOC’s principles of good governance. However, the fact that these provisions are not part of IOA’s constitution has caused the current point of conflict — a situation that could have been avoided by a firm hand on IOC part, directing the IOA to adopt these principles.

Driven mainly by self-interest, the power-hungry officials of the IOA have all along opposed the Sports Code. In contrast, majority of the constituents of the IOA, namely the national sports federations, have embraced it, aware that their way forward is fully dependent on funding and support from the government.

Voluntarily adopting the provisions of the code in its constitution could have been the way forward for the IOA but that would have spelt an end to the careers of many a long-serving official.

The IOA might cry foul that it has not been given a fair hearing by the international body but it is obvious that its current plight is self-inflicted. It has repeatedly ignored words of wisdom from the top, and stayed loyal to people who are still embroiled in scams related to the Commonwealth Games.

Clearly, there is a way out of the mess if the IOA sees reason and cleans up its house. Striking a posture of defiance will only harm the sportspersons’ interest, which should have been kept above all the dirty politicking.

Comments (+)