IOA cites Govt interference in election process as reason
In a huge embarrassment for India, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today suspended the Indian Olympic Association because of Government interference, a development which puts a bar on the country’s Olympic participation.
Associated Press, quoting two officials with knowledge of the decision, said that a formal decision about the suspension will be made at the end of the first day’s Executive Board meeting here.
The decision was largely expected after the IOA decided to go ahead with the elections tomorrow under the Government’s Sports Code, defying the IOC’s diktat to hold the polls under the Olympic Charter.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not been made yet.
The IOC had repeatedly told the IOA not follow the Government’s sports code for the elections on the ground that it would be a violation of the Olympic Charter and compromise autonomy. But the IOA went ahead saying they were bound by the Delhi High Court order.
Suspension meant that the IOA will stop receiving IOC funding and its officials will be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events. India’s athletes will be barred from competing in Olympic events under their national flag, but they can participate under the IOC banner.
The IOA top brass said that they were not aware of the decision yet as no communication has been sent to them yet.
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said that it was an “unfortunate decision” for Indian sports community.
“Once we knew about the mess we had written to the IOC but they never responded,” Jitendra said.
The IOA has the option of challenging the IOC’s decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
The developments has now put a cloud of uncertainty over tomorrow’s IOA elections which has already seen Abhay Singh Chautala being elected unopposed. Scam-tainted Lalit Bhanot had also been elected unopposed as the Secretary General.
IOA acting chief V K Malhotra said that they have been pressing the Government not to impose the Sports Code on the IOA for the last two years but it has not paid any results.
“We had written to the Prime Minster on November 23 that such a thing could happen but there was no reply. The Government is responsible for this,” he said.
“We want that the Government, the IOC and the IOA sit together and resolve the issue so that the suspension on India is lifted. We had no option but to hold the elections under the Sports Code because of the High Court order,” he said.
India earns the dubious distinction among a handful of countries which have faced suspension from the world sports governing body.
South Africa had been suspended for its apartheid policy while Kuwait faced the same fate for Government interference before it was re-admitted after the Gulf country’s Olympic body amended its constitution.
The Netherlands Antilles and South Sudan were also banned for not forming their national Olympic Committees.
The development sparked off outrage among India’s top athletes who expressed anguish at the IOC decision. Some of the former athletes like sprinter Ashwini Nachappa and shooter Moraad Ali Khan who blamed the squabbling within the IOA for the fiasco.
The IOC had last week made it clear that it would propose the suspension of the IOA in its Executive Board Meeting if the IOA elections are held under the Government’s Sports Code.