IOC warns IOA of suspension if Sports Code is followed

Malhotra writes to PM, urging him to drop the code

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) election process was thrown into complete disarray on Friday with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) threatening to “suspend” the body if the government’s Sports Code  was followed.

IOC president Jacques Rogge and OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, in the IOC’s  latest communiqué to IOA acting chief Vijay Kumar Malhotra, called the current situation “extremely confusing”. They said unless the IOA was able to take corrective action by November 30 towards rectifying the situation regarding the December 5 polls, the IOC would place the IOA’s suspension before its Executive Board meeting on December 4 and 5.

The IOC described the current situation, where the IOA, despite claiming that it was against the Sports Code, was compelled to continue with the poll process incorporating the provisions in the code, as a violation of the Olympic Charter.

The IOC letter was in reply to Malhotra’s missive to the IOC that they did not want to adhere to the government’s Sports Code but it had become binding on them as a result of a High Court directive. The letter was also addressed to IOA Secretary-General Randhir Singh.

“The situation is therefore extremely confusing, not to say contradictory, since, on the one hand, the IOA is claiming that the Government regulations derived from the 'Sports Code' interfere with the election process and are not acceptable; however, on the other hand, the IOA is saying that it is bound by those government regulations and will continue proceeding with the IOA elections on the basis of those regulations,” Rogge wrote.

Malhotra immediately dispatched a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to withdraw the Sports Code and avoid India being disaffiliated by the IOC. “Given the gravity of the situation, as the fate of thousands of Indian sportspersons is linked with it, I sincerely appeal to you immediately to ask the sports ministry to withdraw this Sports Code,” Malhotra said.

The government has been pushing the IOA and the National Sports Federations (NSFs) to adopt its guidelines on age and tenure in its attempt to ensure “good governance.”

The Sports Code was brought in 2010 by the sports ministry, according to which an office-bearer past 70 years of age would not be able to hold any post, while the tenure limitation was fixed to two terms except for the president who can enjoy three tenures in office.

The IOA rejected the code as an “infringement to its autonomy” and violative of the Olympic Charter. The government discussed the issue with the IOA and the world body threadbare, but nothing much came out of the series of meetings in Lausanne in 2010.
The government had threatened to de-recognise NSFs and discontinue their financial assistance if the guidelines are not adhered to. The matter is now in the High Court.
The IOC strongly rebuked IOA for “neglecting a number of fundamental duties and responsibilities of an NOC.”

“The IOC and OCA have objected on numerous occasions, and for more than two years, to the government regulations unless they are freely accepted and reflected in the IOA’s constitution. Unfortunately, the IOC and OCA position has been either ignored or challenged,” the letter noted.

“Indeed, for more than two years, the IOA has obviously failed to play an active role in defending the principles of the Olympic Charter and in entering into a real and constructive dialogue with the relevant Government authorities to ensure that this matter is resolved in a satisfactory manner in line with the IOC and OCA position,” it said.

 The letter also said the IOA failed to inform them about the Delhi High Court ruling of September 13, 2012 by which the IOA is now saying that it is bound. “The IOC Executive Board may take any appropriate decisions for the protection of the Olympic Movement in the country of an NOC, including suspension of or withdrawal of recognition from such NOC.”

The IOA had been asked to provide all necessary explanations by November 30 with a guarantee that the election would be held strictly on the basis of Olympic Charter and IOA constitution.

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