Ahead of Paris Olympics, IOA standing still due to infighting - Hindustan Times

Ahead of Paris Olympics, IOA standing still due to infighting

ByAvishek Roy
Apr 12, 2024 10:17 PM IST

With IOA president PT Usha and the executive board members unable to resolve their differences, no financial approvals are coming through

The administrative mess within the Indian Olympic Association has stalled preparations towards the Paris Olympics. With IOA president PT Usha and the executive board members unable to resolve their differences over appointment of CEO Raghuram Iyer, no financial approvals are coming through. Pressing matters like taking stock of arrangements in Paris for the Indian contingent are therefore getting delayed.

IOA president PT Usha(PTI)
IOA president PT Usha(PTI)

As per the IOA constitution, bank accounts shall be operated by the CEO in co-ordination and consultation with the IOA president and treasurer. However, the executive council, having objected to the appointment of CEO, has refused to make Iyer the signatory authority to operate bank accounts.

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Currently IOA joint secretary Kalyan Chaubey, who was functioning as the acting CEO till Iyer was appointed in January after a long delay, is the signatory authority for IOA in the bank. With the appointment of a CEO, he can no longer perform that duty.

The IOA constitution also says that in "absence of the availability of CEO for any reason, the account shall be jointly operated by the treasurer and the president."

That too seems far-fetched at the moment because Usha and IOA treasurer Sahdev Yadav are not on the same page. Yadav, also the president of Indian Weightlifting Federation, is part of the group that is opposing the CEO, inistsing that the executive council has not cleared his appointment. Usha, on the other hand, has maintained that the council had given its consent during the January meeting.

"The situation at IOA is grim. Not a single cheque can be signed, nothing is moving and this is happening at a time so close to the Paris Olympics," said an IOA official. "So many matters related to overseeing arrangements for the contingent at the Paris Olympics need urgent attention but the executive board is sitting over it. The president has the power to sanction expenditures but a very small sum."

The only saving grace is that SAI and its TOPS divisions look after the training of athletes in consultation with federations.

Interestingly, the 15-member IOA executive council has eight sportspersons of repute. The new-look IOA was supposed to usher in reforms in administration but 16 months of the functioning has been a dampener with internal feud and power politics at play. The Annual General Meeting is yet to be called. The IOA Athletes Commission is non-functioning. The appointment of CEO came after a rap by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

As per the constitution, IOA’s executive council should have appointed a CEO within a month but the process took 13 months after several meetings. Recently, a notice was put up at the IOA office premises, asking "unauthorised persons" not to enter its headquarters. The wrath was directed towards Iyer and Ajay Narang, executive assistant to Usha.

Mary Kom resigns as chef de mission

Meanwhile boxing legend MC Mary Kom, chosen as the chef de mission of the Indian contingent for the Paris Olympics, has stepped down citing personal reasons.

“I consider it an honour to serve my country in every way possible, and I was mentally prepared for it. However, I regret that I will not be able to uphold the prestigious responsibility and would like to resign, owing to personal reasons,” she wrote in the letter. “I am there to cheer on my country and the athletes competing in this Olympic Games, with great expectations."

Usha said she will soon announce Mary's replacement. “I completely understand her request and respect her decision. I shall make the appropriate consultations and soon make an announcement about the replacement for Mary Kom,” said Usha.

Besides Mary Kom, six-time winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan was appointed the deputy chef de mission and Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala as chief medical officer. Sharath Kamal was named as the flagbearer of the Indian contingent for the Paris Olympics. However even these appointments were questioned by some members saying they were not part of the decision making.

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