Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary-general Randhir Singh on Thursday hit back after a personal attack on him earlier by the Sports Ministry. With the tussle between the IOA and the government showing no signs of abating, Singh, also an International Olympic Committee (IOC), had been accused of “vested interests”.
Explaining that he had no need to consult the government before speaking to the IOC, Singh said it was his responsibility to keep the parent body informed.
“As a member, I am not bound to consult the government on issues relating to the IOC.” Singh quoted a clause from the Olympic Charter, which states that, “It is the obligation of an IOC member to inform the President, without delay, of all events liable to hinder the application of the Olympic Charter or to otherwise adversely affect the Olympic Movement in his country or in the organisation of the Olympic Movement in which he serves.”
He said the Ministry, too, had issued the new guidelines without consulting anyone.
“It (the Ministry) could have consulted an IOC member in India or any other sports official. It shows a total misunderstanding of the Olympic Charter on their part,” he said.
Singh handed out a letter from the IOC to reporters. Clarifying the IOC’s position, it states that, “The public authorities must respect the autonomy of the organisations of the Olympic and sports movements, and must in no way intervene in or interfere with the internal affairs of these organisations.” It also explains that law or an external body cannot decide the specific issues of the number of terms of office-bearers and the age limit for members of any National Olympics Committee (NOC) or National Sports Federations (NSFs).
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) also came out in support for the man under fire. A letter written by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the OCA president, says that the term of the NOC office-bearers is the prerogative of the NOC and should be decided accordingly.
Calling it an “unfortunate development”, Singh said the poor timing of the regulation had surprised everyone. The government should be more concerned with unfinished venues ahead of the Games in October, having been criticised by the Commonwealth Games Federation’s Coordination Commission (CoCom) again. “Instead of worrying about the completion of the Nehru Stadium and the Talkatora Stadium, the government is trying to usurp the autonomy of the sports federations,” he added.