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IOC may disaffiliate IOA over the Sports Code

DELHI, INDIA – OCTOBER 06: India’s Rajender Kumar with an Indian flag after winning a gold medal defeating Pakistan’s Azhar Hussain in the 55kg Greco-Roman wrestling at the IG Sports Complex during day three of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games on October 6, 2010 in Delhi, India.

We are used to sports in India playing victim to rich, rich irony. This one really takes the cake.

Remember the much lauded Sports Code? Which put a cap on tenure and age of office bearers in sports bodies? Well that one is in conflict with the guidelines of the IOC and may lead to dire consequences for sports in India.

The Indian Olympic Association may be disaffiliated by the International Olympic Committee for not following its guidelines. The IOA is a body formed to interpret and implement the policies and guidelines imposed by the IOC. Why then should the IOA renegade?

That’s the million dollar question. If the whole point of the existence of the IOA is to follow and implement the guidelines of the IOC, why then is the IOA sticking to its self imposed guideline which is in clear contradiction of the IOC? How does that even make sense?

Picture the IOC as the brain and the IOA as the limbs which serve the whims of the IOC. The purest simplification of this issue is that of a man going about punching and kicking himself while convinced that he is serving the will and best interests of the brain.

IOC president chief Jacques Rogge said in a joint letter with OCA chief Al Sabah:

“It is our understanding that IOA is unable to confirm that IOA’s elections will be held strictly in accordance with rules of Olympic Charter and IOA’s constitution currently in force. On the contrary, it is mentioned that the government regulations shall apply for IOA’s elections, thus ignoring the Olympic Charter and IOA’s constitution. 

Unless you rectify the situation with immediate effect and give a clear and written guarantee to IOC to ensure that elections be held strictly on the basis of the Olympic Charter and IOA’s constitution, we inform you that a proposal for suspension of your NOC will be presented to the IOC Executive Board at its next meeting on 4-5 December 2012, based on Rules 27.9 and 59.1.4 of the Olympic Charter.”

Its doubly difficult for those sportspersons who struggle day and night to train to represent their country at the highest level. They don’t just have to worry about the competition and the regular hurdles such as training and nutrition. Add the hurdle of the government and bureaucracy to it as well.

The IOA acting chief V K Malhotra wrote a letter to the PM asking him to withdraw the Sports Code urgently:

“I have just received a letter from the IOC in which it has threatened to disaffiliate IOA if its elections scheduled to be held here on 5th December are held as per Sports Code of Government of India. Given the gravity of situation, as the fate of thousands of Indian sportspersons is linked with it, I sincerely appeal to you to immediately ask the Sports Ministry to withdraw this Sports Code. 

“Disaffiliation from IOC will not be good for reputation and prestige of the country. It will seriously impede our progress in sports and demoralise sportspersons. India at this stage can ill-afford such a situation, hence the request you to step in and urgently withdraw this ill conceived Sports Code.”

Now the major confusion is in deciding which is the higher power, IOC, IOA or the Indian government. Justice Bali said in his direction to the IOA acting president V K Malhotra:

“If any provision is silent as to the process of elections, the provisions of constitution/memorandum/bye-laws of the IOA will be applicable. Whenever there is a conflict in the provisions of the Sports Code of the Government of India and constitution/memorandum/bye-laws as to the process of the elections, the provisions of the Sports Code will be applicable.”

So that would make it seem that in case of a conflict, the Sports Code will be given preference. But in a pending case on September 13 a Delhi court order stated that the IOA elections:

“Shall be held after compliance of the provisions of the constitution/memorandum/bye-laws of the IOA as well as the Sports Code of the Government of India.”

Mind blown. Why is this even an issue? Why can’t we simply recognize that the IOC is the supreme body of the Olympics and the Sports Code ought to be below it? The whole point of the Sports Code is to allow the country to become a better nation at sports. How will it help the country if a provision in the Sports Code leads to the disaffiliation of India from the IOC? We have till November 30 to resolve this issue, after which IOC will take serious action.

Its not just a question of sports. India’s reputation as a country is at stake here. We make such a hue and cry when we don’t win as many medals as China, imagine the insult if we are disaffiliated by the IOC altogether. Participation in the Olympics is a major status symbol, losing it is akin to sports in India being shot in the face.

“Hang the code! It’s more like a guideline anyway.” Picture the government as Captain Teague, shooting dead those who dare to suggest that.

Here’s a petition which you can sign to support the cause, asking for the IOA to comply with the IOC:
http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/indian-olympic-association-comply-with-ioa-guideline

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