The joy proved to be shortlived. The triumph of our sportspersons in the Olympics has been negated by the dismal state of affairs in India’s sports officialdom. As always, factionalism and politics have brought Indian sport to its knees. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is riddled by factions as are national sports federations. The promotion and nurturing of talent seems to the last thing on the minds of those who control various sports bodies. Administrators in the name of promoting sport only want to cling on to power.
Now thanks to these shenanigans, Indian boxers have been knocked out of international events because the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, which had been suspended last year by the International Amateur Boxing Federation for possible manipulations in elections, hasn’t cleaned up its act. This is unfair to the sportspersons who have done India proud in the ring. And rather than help them achieve greater glory, they have been made victims of squabbles within the organisation. No date has been announced for re-elections so far. The IOA has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee for violating its charter. This should have been a period in which Indian sportspersons should have been honing their skills in the international arena instead of becoming outcasts. Sinecures in sports bodies are given as grace and favour, rarely on the basis of ability. Key members of sports organisations should be former sportspersons and there should be minimal involvement of politicians. Some bodies have been presided over by the same people for decades with no new ideas or inputs in a highly competitive arena.
The creditable showing by our sportspersons in the Olym-pics should have served to encourage new talent. But, given this appalling state of affairs, it would seem a risky proposition to invest the time and energy that go into competitive sports. Whether it’s archery or tennis, we just don’t seem to be able to get it right. In all this, it is the athletes who are facing a serious challenge to their careers. We complain long and loud about how badly we fare compared to countries which are far smaller and have fewer resources than us. But when it comes to streamlining the management of sports in the country, no one seems to want to take up the task. The sports ministry cannot stand by and allow things to go on this way. Or else the race is over before it has begun.