After a year of brinkmanship, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has been forced to fall in line and amend its constitution to keep out officials facing charges framed in courts from contesting elections for posts in the apex sports body of the country.
The IOA was suspended in December last year by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for electing tainted officials defying the global governing body’s demand for good governance.
Corruption in sport has been a constant theme ever since sports administrators were exposed during the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
The IOA’s change of heart came a day after it was issued a stern warning by the international body that India would be kicked out of the Olympics if it did not take action.
The IOA’s statute change is likely to bring a favourable response from the IOC, which is expected to lift India’s suspension provided its executive committee ratifies the amended constitution in its meeting to be held shortly.
That it has taken the senior IOA leadership this long to respond, despite the country’s leading sports personalities constantly voicing their demand for fundamental changes in the way sports is run, points to the fact that a cleansing of the system is still some distance away. But the winds of change are blowing across the country, and sports cannot be immune to it.
Gone are days when senior sports officials could hang on to their chairs without challenge and make athletes feel whatever support they provide them is a favour.
The sentiment among the sports community clearly shows their sweat and toil on the playing fields deserves to be respected. The time has come for not just honest officials to run federations but also for efficiency to become the watchword.
India’s performance in the last two Olympics is seen as a new beginning.
All that effort will go down the drain unless the right officials take over and help build momentum from the corridors of sports administration. More transparency is needed.
The IOA has made a start, but only in letter. The sooner it embraces change in spirit, the better for Indian sport.