Olympic body finds new way of appeasing favourites

  • Saurabh Duggal, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 15, 2014 17:30 IST

An athlete toils for years to be part of events such as the Olympic and Asian Games. But for bureaucrats and politicians it’s a cakewalk. The modus operandi is simple — they use clout to get their names included in the Indian Olympic Association’s delegates’ list through the national sports federations (NSFs), following which all their expenses are taken care of.

A fortnight ago, the general secretary of the Cycling Federation of India, Onkar Singh, recommended the name of Congress MP from Rohtak, Deepinder Hooda, and his wife to be included in the IOA delegation for the Incheon Asian Games, after the national Olympic committee (NOC) invited names from the NSFs.

HT is in possession of a copy of the IOA letter dated Sept 9 to 35 NSFs, asking them to nominate one delegate each for the Games. The letter further states that a sum of `1.25 lakh will be given to each delegate during his visit to Incheon.

“The IOA has also decided that financial assistance of `1.25 lakh will be given to each delegate in regard to air travel, daily allowance, local transport, in addition to the accommodation for seven nights on single-occupancy basis,” states the letter sent by IOA president, N Ramachandran, and secretary-general, Rajeev Mehta, to the presidents and secretary-generals of NSFs.

It is strange that while the IOA is making a hue and cry over the sports ministry’s decision to drop some managers from the Indian contingent, it is pushing for the inclusion of bureaucrats and politicians, trying to pass them off as officials required for managing teams. Sources say that one of the reasons these people are not being sent as IOA delegates but as team officials is because of the stringent accountability guidelines set by the ministry.

Following the Commonwealth Games fiasco, where a senior-ranking IOA official and wrestling referee were detained by Scotland police, the ministry had asked for the list of delegates who had visited Glasgow. But instead of providing the names of delegates, the IOA has come up with a novel way of browbeating the guidelines. An advisory note has also been sent along with the IOA letter which states that while recommending the delegates, the federations must ensure that they are office-bearers in the NSFs.

A federation official said on condition of anonymity that “the IOA is busy pleasing officials of the NSFs, forgetting that the money — about `50 lakh — could have been spent on accommodating personal coaches, masseurs and support staff.

During the Glasgow Games, boxer L Sarita Devi requested if the IOA could bear the expenses of her husband and one-year-old boy to the Games. But what the IOA offered to the Arjuna awardee boxer was a “visa-support letter”. The IOA clearly specified that the family would have to bear the expenses to Glasgow.

The reason is simple: Sportspersons don’t have votes to elect IOA office-bearers.

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