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‘Observers are our prerogative’

india Updated: Aug 26, 2009 23:01 IST
Sahil Sharma
Sahil Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is hardening its stand on Hockey India with each passing day.

On Wednesday, the ministry’s joint secretary, Injeti Sriniwas said they reserved the sole right to appoint government observers for overseeing elections to the body and would not entertain any interference from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

“Our stand is clear. We will not consult the IOA before appointing observers to oversee the Hockey India elections. Why should we?

We have the right to do so,” said Sriniwas when questioned if the ministry would take the IOA’s consent before appointing observers.

Reiterating that even the Election Commission could be approached to appoint observers, he said that holding elections was a commitment made to the international hockey federation (FIH) and if the IOA tried to raise objections, the ministry would be left with no option but to stop supporting Hockey India.

“The ministry and FIH are in direct contact, it doesn’t concern the IOA.

“When FIH president (Leandro Negre) visited India recently, we discussed the issue in detail and he was all for the appointment of government observers for a fair and transparent election process,” the joint secretary told Hindustan Times.

They (IOA) can’t interfere in the ministry’s process by taking refuge in the Olympic Charter, because the move to appoint observers has the approval of the FIH.

And if the IOA doesn’t oblige, we will not support them,” he said categorically.

“The FIH has set October as the deadline for conducting elections but the World Cup is only next year in March. We will have a solution to the problem by then,” he said.

The FIH has already appointed its vice-president, Tony von Ondarza, as its observer for the elections and Sriniwas said that very soon the ministry too would follow suit.

London Olympics on Ministry’s mind

The London Olympic Games may be three years away but the ministry is in the final phase of short-listing the training venue for athletes, which would help them acclimatise to the climate in England.

“Earlier, all these decisions were taken late and cost the ministry lots of money but now we will zero in on the training venue quite early to save expenses and ensure that players do not suffer last-minute hassles.

“The Leeds University Centre and two venues in Essex — Colchester and Chelmsford — are on our list and soon we will do all the forward booking. The London Olympic Games Organising Committee

has promised each one of the countries who decide to train in England a subsidy of 40,000 dollars (Rs 20 lakh),” said Sriniwas.

“We are more interested in the Leeds University Centre as it has state-of-the-art facilities and offer residential facilities at economical rates,” said Sriniwas, who also recently inspected the venues in

England. “Moreover, Leeds is barely 50 minutes drive from London.