IOC stance irks sports ministry

Respect our national concerns, says official

The Sports Ministry and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was involved in a war of words on Wednesday with the former hitting out at the IOC directive that it must not fix tenures of officials of the national sports bodies.

In a hard-hitting communication to IOC president Jacques Rogge Wednesday, joint secretary in sports ministry Injeti Srinivas wrote that it was “surprised that in such a fundamental matter as good democracy and clean elections in the National Olympic Committee’s (NOC), you do not wish to take any position except to say that no matter how unacceptable the situation, the national authorities, or courts of the country are not to look their way”.

The ministry was responding to IOC’s NOC relations department director Pere Miro’s letter on Monday which said that according to the Olympic Charter “such measures must be decided freely and democratically by the competent organs of those organisations”.
Writing on behalf of Rogge, Miro said that a decision on fixing of tenure of officials can be taken only by the respective bodies “democratically”.

“As we stated clearly in our letter May 3 to IOC member Randhir Singh, which came to your knowledge, the issue is not whether a limitation in the number of terms of office and or an age limit within the organisations of the Olympic Movement (including the NOC) and national federations is appropriate or not. Each one has an opinion on these issues which as far as we are concerned we fully respect.

“However, our point is that such measures (which relate to the internal operations of these organisations) must not be decided or imposed by law or an external body’s decision, but must be decided freely and democratically by the competent organs of those organisations on a case-by-case basis, and this must be reflected in their respective statutes/constitutions.

“This is our understanding of what autonomy of Olympic Charter and sports organisations means,” Miro said.

In reply, Srinivas said IOC changed its own rules as far as restricting age limit and tenures of office bearers are concerned and it should ask the NOCs to follow that.  You have in your own organisation changed your internal rules in 1999 in order to have a reasonable age limit of 70 years, a maximum presidential term of 12 years, and an office bearer’s term of eight years, to be followed by a break.

“However, your present position seems to indicate that what is eminently desirable for the IOC and has been put in place by the votes of the NOCs need not be followed by the NOCs themselves, and they may continue to have office bearers of unacceptable lengths of tenure going on to advanced ages.

“We urge you to respect our national concerns and sentiments and assist us in giving Indian sports a better deal in the 21st century,” Srinivas said.

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