It is difficult to imagine a national Olympic committee without the likes of the Lalit Bhanots and Abhey Chautalas. It is difficult because these sports administrators were at the helm for years and wielded tremendous clout.
But with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) cracking the whip, the Union sports ministry putting pressure on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to strictly adhere to the sports code for good governance and the former IOA secretary-general, Randhir Singh, making his choice known, it became untenable for the old administrators to hold on to their positions.
Now with N Ramachandran, the younger brother of the Board of Control for Cricket in India president N Srinivasan, getting unanimously elected to the post of IOA president, there is hope that India will return to the Olympic fold and athletes will proudly march at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Asian Games in Incheon with the Tricolour in hand.
The participation of the tiny India contingent at the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi under the Olympic flag, should, hopefully, be an aberration and the time has come for the IOC to bless the IOA amendments and elections and bring it back to the fold. According to some reports, the IOC is likely to lift India’s suspension on February 23.
Mr Ramachandran, serving his second term as head of the world squash body, is a veteran administrator. Though there have been allegations that the 67-year-old has only tried to promote squash in Tamil Nadu — and that too in his centre — one positive outcome of these elections is that the stalemate has been broken. It is not the time to delve into the details of who brokered it or how was it brokered.
A new beginning has been made and for the moment it seems the sports ministry, the IOA and the IOC are on the same page, never mind the tacit support — or pulls — the old IOA administrators will exert.
Leaving that aside, the good thing to come out of this development is that from now on, the contentious age and tenure clause will be adhered to in subsequent IOA and state body elections, the IOC will continue to keep an eagle-eyed vigil on the country, and the IOA and federations will be more accountable for the government funds they receive.