New Sports Code almost ready, Srinivas

New Sports Code almost ready, Srinivas

General : 'It's an opportunity for federations'

New Sports Code almost ready, Srinivas

Even as clamour grows for reforms in sports administration in the country, the panel appointed by the government to revise the National Sports Code is close to finalising its work.

The Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas, who is the head of the panel, said the national sports federations should view the development as an opportunity to improve, rather than as a threat. Excerpts:

On Lodha committee and the redrafted sports code: If you look at it analytically, age and tenure restrictions are already there. There may be some difference between the age and tenure restrictions of the Lodha Committee and that of the Sports Development Code. That is because the Code is aligned to the Olympic charter and it will continue to be aligned. If we want to be a part of the Olympic movement, we cannot fall out of sync with the Olympic Charter. If you look at it broadly, there is not much difference between what the Lodha Committee has said and what the code has said. 70-80% is common. Certain differences are mainly because it is cricket specific. This may not be relevant for Olympic sports.

On sticking to Olympic Charter: So long as we are keeping the Olympic Charter as our touchstone, I don't see any possibility of us going wrong. We will stick to that. We will always be on the right side of the Olympic Charter. We consider it sacred. If you want to be in the Olympic movement you have to follow their rules.

On issues related to the restructured sports code: Apart from age and tenure, there are other issues too. One is having fair and transparent elections. Elaborate recommendations have been made. There have been judicial pronouncements on this matter as well. In one case, the court said that the government can set up some sort of election commission to conduct elections in sports bodies. That has to be seen.

With issues like players' welfare, there is a big gap. There is a clear policy prescription in the code that sufficient representation of athletes has to be there in the decision-making process, say 25%. It is more advisory than mandatory. It has to be made more mandatory than advisory.

Then comes the area of disputes. We are aware of the pre-eminent position of the IOA. The government is certainly of the view that it should play the pre-eminent position of settling disputes in a fair and transparent manner. Empirical evidence shows that it has miserably failed. More than half a dozen Olympic sports are under huge dispute and it is damaging the prospects. Maybe something else has to be thought of. Will it be a tribunal, a panel, or an ombudsman? We need to look into that.

Whatever we do, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Whatever ills are there, those should be carefully identified and rectified.

One more issue is selection criteria and grievance redressal. Then, I look at management of federations; this has to be professional. This part-time, voluntary, out of the goodness of heart, this will not work. It is a very competitive world today. Amateur sport is disappearing.

On the timeline: A major issue is whether this will be in the form of a code or a legislation. These are decisions to be taken by the government at the highest level and then by the parliament, once the report is submitted.

The committee is more or less coming to a conclusion on the code. A few sittings and they should wind up their work. Then they will submit their report to the government. The government will then have to take a call on how to enforce this.
The federations should look at this as an opportunity rather than a threat.

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