There is finally some good news for the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and India’s Olympic athletes, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has revoked the ban on the IOA thereby facilitating India’s return to the Olympic fold. The decision comes just a day after the IOA held fresh elections as per the IOC directives.
The decision, by the IOC Executive Board (EB) at an ad-hoc meeting in Sochi, reinstated the IOA which kept tainted officials out of its elections.
The Executive Board took the decision following a report submitted by a three-member delegation, headed by Robin Mitchell, who were the observers at the IOA General Assembly here Sunday.
The IOC observers told the Executive Board members that the elections were held in full respect of the recently passed NOC (National Olympic Committee) constitution, which complies with all IOC requirements, including the clause that no person convicted or charge-framed can run for a position within the organisation.
Jerome Poivey, IOC’s head of institutional relations, even stated that the amended IOA constitution was one of the best and most strongly-worded constitutions in the world.
It is the first time in Olympic history that a suspension of an NOC has been lifted during an Olympic Games, and the decision will have an immediate impact.
The three Indian athletes, who were competing under the IOC flag in the Sochi Winter Games (Feb 7-23), can now take part under the Indian flag. They took part in the opening ceremony under the Olympic flag and and have competed as Independent Olympic Participants. The Indian flag will also be raised at the Games Village in Sochi.
The IOA elections took place on Sunday under the observation of IOC officials. As per the IOC directive, the IOC barred allegedly corrupt officials from contesting elections. N. Ramachandran, the brother of Board of Control for Cricket in India boss N. Srinivasan, was elected unopposed as President of the IOA.
The IOC had suspended the IOA in December 2012 when the latter elected people like Lalit Bhanot (secretary general) and Abhay Singh Chautala (president) who are facing corruption charges. The IOC had at the time made it clear to the IOA that charge-sheeted persons should not have been allowed to contest the elections. But the IOA though defied the IOC directive and allowed Bhanot and Chautala to hold their posts by stating that the law of the land allowed that, thus eliciting the suspension.
The official recognition of the IOA back into the Olympic fold also means that the Indian athletes will now be able to compete under Indian colours at major sporting events later this year such as the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow and the Asian Games at South Korea.