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Light at end of the tunnel for IOA as IOC warms up to readmission

other Updated: May 16, 2013 01:53 IST
HT Correspondent
International Olympic Committee

Amidst the all-pervading atmosphere of despair and dejection, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday gave India, and its sports fraternity, hope that if they follow the roadmap given to them, they could soon be walking with their heads held high in the global arena.

During their crucial meeting with the IOC in Lausanne, a high-level Indian delegation headed by sports minister Jitendra Singh, and aided by Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra, put forward the country's viewpoint in a forceful and articulate manner and extracted assurance of an early redressal so that India could be back much sooner than expected.

The IOC too played hardball, saying that India could expect to be back soon but for that the Indian Olympic Association would have to follow the Olympic Charter and incorporate the ideals of good governance.

To start with, the IOC has directed the IOA to hold its annual general body meeting within four weeks so that the dates for fresh elections can be announced.

The world governing body will also closely monitor the election process, and even send an observer to oversee the process --- a clear indication to the sports administrators that those with tainted past will not have a place in the new setup.

It could end the careers of several sports administrators --- including Lalit Bhanot, who was elected unopposed during the IOA's December 5 elections that was declared null and void by the IOC --- who were booked on corruption charges after the Commonwealth Games.

The IOA might have all the rules for good governance prominently in their statute book, but they remain only on paper.

This has been a sore point with the IOC, which wants full compliance from all National Olympic Committees (NOCs) on ethics and good governance.

During the meeting, the IOC's top brass raised this issue and the sports minister, while conceding that Indian sports administration lacked wisdom, urged the world governing body to help.

"We hope the IOC will assist us in bringing about the changes and allow Indian sportspersons to compete under the national flag," said Jitendra Singh.

The IOC has, from time to time, amended its statute for good governance by amending the age limit and tenure clauses, and today even the IOC president is elected by secret ballot.

But the IOA has hardly changed its constitution.

It was the first time in the history of the IOA that election for all the key posts were held on December 5.

Previously, the president was elected by popular vote and he nominated his team.

The sports minister also assured the IOC that the government never interferes with the functioning of the IOA or the National Sports Federations (NSFs).

But, since the government funds almost all the NSFs, it expects proper utilisation of taxpayers' money, the minister told the IOC members.

Clearing the air on the Sports Code, which is a bone of contention between the IOC and the Indian government, the minister said it was nothing but a set of guidelines for good governance similar to the Olympic Charter, which the government expects the IOA and the NSFs to follow voluntarily.