Positive move

A strand of positive news arrived from Lausanne on Wednesday for the Indian sports fraternity fed up with the never-ending power struggle among administrators. The decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to create a road map for India’s return to the Olympic fold is indeed a welcome one.

Ever since the IOC suspended the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for “violation of Olympic Charter” and for “government interference” in its election process in December last year, sportspersons of this country have been staring at an uncertain future, with hurdles placed in their participation in international events under the national flag. After close to five months of thrust and parry between the concerned parties—the IOC, the IOA and the Indian government—a glimmer of hope has emerged now, thanks to the deliberations at IOC headquarters.

At the centre of the issue was the government’s sports code which lays down age and tenure restrictions on sports administrators. Quite understandably, power-hungry officials found it hard to digest, leading to the current impasse. The IOC viewed it as governmental interference, even though its own Olympic Charter, the guiding light of the Olympic movement, prescribed the same for its officials. The way out was for the IOA to adopt the government guidelines in its constitution while following the IOC code of good governance.

At the Lausanne meeting, the government delegation, led by Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, was able to present its case convincingly while the words of Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist—who was part of the delegation—were of no less significance. He highlighted the importance of keeping out discredited individuals while laying stress on the need for ethical methods in administration.

At the end of the day, a window of opportunity has been thrown open to India to leave the days of torment behind, with the IOC suggesting an amendment to the constitution and fresh elections as the way forward. The IOC also said it would work together in the drafting of a new sports bill so that it is fully compatible with the principles and rules of the Olympic movement. Though concerns remain on how this will work out, of immediate interest is the return of India to the Olympic fold and that could come about once the IOA goes through fresh elections as per the IOC road map. A good step forward, as Bindra himself put it, but still some way to go before the goal is achieved.

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