The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Saturday again backed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the National Sports Federations (NSFs) in their battle over autonomy with the Ministry of Sports.
In a joint letter, IOC National Olympic Committee (NOC) Relations Director Pere Miro and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Director General Husain Al-Musallam said if the Ministry insisted on implementing the tenure-capping guidelines, the issue would be referred to the IOC Executive Board meeting in June. The Board may then decide to suspend or de-recognise the country from the Olympics. The letter was addressed to Sports Minister MS Gill and IOA president Suresh Kalmadi.
IOA secretary general, Randhir Singh, though maintained that IOA would not follow the ministry guidelines, told Hindustan Times from Lausanne: 'As mentioned in the letter, we can’t go against the Olympic Charter.' Singh is at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne to discuss about the ministry guidelines being imposed upon the national federations and the IOA with the IOC officials.
The letter dated May 21, 2010, said, 'We (the IOC) would like to remind you, once more, that in the event where the directives issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports would be imposed on the Olympic Movement in India (even for future elections), we would be forced to report this case to the next IOC Executive Board meeting according to the rules of the Olympic Charter, in particular Rule 28.9.'
Randhir Singh also said, 'This is a step in the right direction. Even the IOC has clarified that the autonomy of the Olympic Committee has to be maintained.'
The guidelines issued earlier this month restricted the tenure of the top bosses of the NSFs to 12 years, that of the secretaries and treasurers for eight years at a stretch and suggested that all executives should retire by the age of 70. This created a furore among the NSF presidents, who termed it a 'draconian move' and 'an assault on the autonomy of the Federations'.
Injeti Srinivas, joint secretary in the Ministry of Sports, refused to comment on the issue, saying he had not seen the IOC letter.