The IOC seems to have come around to the view that the government — financial benefactor to all federations — was not trying to interfere in the functioning of the sports bodies but only wants to inject fairness and ethics in their running, issues enshrined in the Olympic Charter. The meeting is a start, and a demonstration by the minister that the intent to change things for the good is strong. The tough part will be implementation. The IOC has insisted on time-bound action in terms of reforms and changes in the IOA statute before a fresh election is held. The IOC ultimatum is an opportunity to purge various federations of powerful politicians and bureaucrats who treat the bodies like fiefdoms. With power concentrated in a few hands, grassroots administration and development of talent have all but vanished. Bindra pointed out how officials make little effort to bring in funds or prepare development plans and instead enjoy power and feed on the tax payers’ money. Despite a more liberal economic climate over the last decade, sponsors are wary of dealing with sports bosses who don’t have a professional approach. The nation’s mood has changed since the 2010 Commonwealth Games brought a lot of embarrassment following corruption charges against senior sports officials involved in its organisation.
The winds of change are blowing across Indian sports. Keen interest is building around games other than cricket. But the big hopes of building on the six-medal haul in the 2012 London Games are already fading. This is a perfect opportunity to turn things around as another opportunity may not come in the near future.