The saga of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is showing no sign of ending as yet.
The national body, suspended in December by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after its election was held null and void for electing a tainted official, has accepted most of the changes suggested in its draft constitution by the IOC.
But senior IOA officials still refuse to accept a key stipulation —those against whom charges have been framed by an Indian court cannot contest elections. The issue has generated heat after key officials were charge-sheeted for corruption while organising the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The IOC has directed the IOA that it must sort out the issue of tainted officials by October 31 and hold fresh elections by December 15, after the freshly amended constitution is approved by the global body.
The IOA has been accused of double standards.
On the one hand it opposes the age and tenure clauses proposed by the sports ministry pointing to the Olympic Charter and on the other it resists the IOC stand on tainted officials citing Indian laws.
The IOC’s firm stand has been welcomed by top athletes and the sports ministry. The IOA’s adamant stand will only hurt Indian athletes.
It is time the IOA officials accept that the focus should be on athletes rather than the backroom politics by administrators. Three medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and six in London last year are still too few and the challenge of future success is only growing by the day.
In global sports, very little separates the best, and champions benefit from the cutting-edge support they receive from their sports bodies.
Here, the IOA would do well to take a leaf out of the global wrestling body. Shockingly voted out of the Olympic programme for the 2020 Games, it promptly regained its place in the roster on Sunday only because its leadership realised that time had come to revamp the way sport is being run.
The IOA too would do well to realise that times are changing fast.