Status quo for IOA, until free and fair elections are held

Lausanne, May 15 (IANS) It’s status quo for the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Wednesday refused to lift its suspension until free and fair elections are held.

The IOC Wednesday held a meeting with the Indian delegation headed by the Minister of State for Sports Jitendra Singh and representatives from the National Sports Federations (NSF), who are also members of the suspended IOA. A representative of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) was also in attendance.

It was agreed that the election process would be closely monitored and supervised by the IOC, which will issue a roadmap for the suspended IOA and all its members to follow.

The IOC Executive Board suspended the IOA Dec 4 last year due to its failure to comply with the Olympic Charter and as a protective measure against government interference in IOA’s election process.

“The main purpose of today’s meetings was to explore the possibility for the suspended IOA to hold free, fair, democratic and transparent elections on the basis of a revised IOA constitution and the Olympic Charter, with no outside interference, that could pave the way for the IOC to consider lifting its suspension of the IOA,” said an IOC statement.

The IOC added that it was considering necessary measures to be taken by IOA for getting the suspension removed.

“It is envisaged that the IOA should hold an extraordinary meeting of its members to review its constitution in order to improve its governance and ethics. This would be followed by a fresh general meeting to elect the new office-bearers of the IOA, based on the newly revised constitution and the Olympic Charter,” added the statement.

The sports minister gave strong guarantees and a clear commitment that the government of India will fully respect the principle of autonomy of the Olympic Movement.

“There will be widespread consultations before any attempt is made to bring a (sports) bill before the Indian parliament. We will consult individual Sports Federations, the IOA and the general public. Every view will be considered and wherever possible, discussed with the concerned body or individual,” said Jitendra Singh in his address to the IOC.

He invited the IOC to be a part of the drafting committee of the sports bill.

“I have already asked the IOC to be a part of the Drafting Committee and I reiterate that invitation today. We will also send the draft bill to the IOC and invite their comments before finalising the bill that will go before Parliament. But let me point out, that we don’t even have a draft with us today. It’s a bit premature to pass judgement at this stage. When a draft is ready, we will make it available and we will invite criticism. It is not something that we plan to do in haste, although to us, the need for such a bill is apparent,” he said.

Jitendra Singh also pointed out to the IOC the anomalies in the IOC electoral college.

“In 2010, the IOC had agreed that the Electoral Roll of the IOA would be amended. The State Olympic Associaions would not have a vote any longer and the NSF would be the voters of the IOA. Subsequently, the IOA proposed a modification of this principle and now we have a situation where the State Olympic Associations also have a vote, even though the NSF have a total voting power more than the SOA,” he said.

Jitendra Singh said it leads to anomalies and manipulation.

“Our view is that this still leads to anomalies and manipulation. We would like a situation where the governance of Sports in India must be in the hands of its Sports Federations and in the case of the IOA, sports federations that administer Olympic sports. I would urge the IOC to take up this matter with the IOA and bring these changes about,” he said.

In addition, a mutual understanding was reached to establish close cooperation between all parties concerned.

It was agreed in particular that the drafting of the new sports bill will be undertaken in close coordination with the IOA and the NSFs, and with prior consultation with the IOC to ensure that it will be fully compatible with the principles and rules of the Olympic Movement.

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