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Govt gets back at IOC

The war of words between the Sports Ministry and the Indian Olympic Association is setting new precedents, with the International Olympic Council (IOC) now getting directly involved, reports HT Correspondent.

other Updated: May 13, 2010 01:53 IST
HT Correspondent

The war of words between the Sports Ministry and the Indian Olympic Association is setting new precedents, with the International Olympic Council (IOC) now getting directly involved.

Two days after the IOC’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) Relations Director, Pero Miro, wrote to Sports Minister, MS Gill, not to impose guidelines on office terms and age-limit of IOA and sports federation heads “in a mandatory manner”, the ministry on Wednesday shot a letter to IOC president, Jacques Rogge, saying, “We urge the IOC to respect our national concerns and sentiments and assist us in giving Indian sports a better deal in the 21st century.”

The ministry’s May 1 guidelines had restricted the tenures of the IOA and federation chiefs to three terms of four years each besides capping their age-limit at 70 years. The move did not go down well with the sports bosses — holding offices for decades — who termed it as against the Olympic Charter.

A letter written by Miro to Gill said, “The IOC’s point is that such measures must not be decided or imposed by law or an external body’s decision, but must be decided freely and democratically by the competent organs of those organisations (IOA and federations)… This is our understanding of what autonomy of the Olympic and sports organisations means. We would unfortunately be obliged to consider the protective measures (suspension of the IOA) provided for in the Olympic Charter (in case the guidelines are imposed).”

But in his letter to Rogge on Thursday, the ministry’s joint secretary, Injeti Srinivas, has reminded the IOC that they themselves had made similar rules in 1999 “to serve the best interest of sport in the world.”

Srinivas’s letter says, “You (IOC) have in your own organisation changed your internal rules in 1999 in order to have a reasonable age limit of 70 years, a maximum presidential term of 12 years, and an office-bearer’s term of eight years. This has been done perhaps because in the recent past, presidents and office-bearers had invited world comment because of their lengthy tenures.

“However, your present position seems to indicate that what is eminently desirable for the IOC need not be followed by the NOCs (read IOA) themselves, and they may continue to have office-bearers, of unacceptable lengths of tenure, going on to advanced ages,” says Srinivas.

“Therefore, we are surprised that, in such a fundamental matter as good democracy, you do not wish to take any position, except to say, that no matter how unacceptable the situation, the national authorities, or courts of the country are not to look their way.”

The ministry went a step ahead by posting all correspondence with the IOC on its website late on Wednesday.