Malhotra seeks PM's intervention following IOC ban threat
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Vijay Kumar Malhotra Friday made an impassioned appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and withdraw the "ill-conceived" Sports Code after the apex body of world sports threatened to ban the national Olympic committee (NOC) if its Dec 5 election was not held as per the Olympic Charter.
Malhotra, in a letter to Manmohan Singh, recalled the meeting the IOA office-bearers held with the prime minister in June last year to apprise him of the "serious ramifications which will follow if the government keeps insisting on passing a National Sports Development Bill".
"I have just received a letter from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in which it has threatened to disaffiliate the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) if its elections scheduled to be held here on 5th December are held as per the Sports Code of the Government of India.
"You may recall that an IOA delegation led by me had called upon you in June 2011 to apprise you about the serious ramifications which will follow if the Government keeps insisting on passing a National sports Development Bill."
Malhotra pointed out that though the government dropped the Bill, the Sports Code is still in existence and "the IOC has made it clear that it will not accept/recoganise any election to IOA conducted under this Sports Code".
IOC president Jacques Rogge and Olympic Council of Asia chief Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah have in letters to Malhotra and secretary general Randhir Singh sought "a clear written guarantee" from the IOA that the election will be held strictly on the basis of the Olympic charter and the IOA's constitution.
The IOC letter further stated that "we inform you that a proposal for suspension of your NOC will be presented to the IOC Executive Board at its next meeting on December 4-5, 2012 based on Rules 27.9 and 59.1.4 of the Olympic Charter".
Malhotra said in his letter that "given the gravity of the situation, as the fate of thousands of Indian sports persons is linked with it, I sincerely appeal to you to immediately ask the Sports ministry to withdraw this Sports Code".
"Disaffiliation from the IOC will not be good for the reputation and prestige of the Country. It will seriously impede our progress in sports and demoralise the sports persons.
"India at this stage can ill-afford such a situation, hence we request you to step in and urgently withdraw this ill-conceived Sports Code," Malhotra said.
Rogge and Sheikh Ahmad have asked the NOC to clarify its stand by Nov 30, failing which the IOC will be forced to take a tough stand. The IOC feels that the elections may take place according to guidelines laid down by the government and not the Olympic charter.
They said if the election were held under the Sports Code, the IOC would move a resolution for the suspension of the IOA.
"A proposal for suspension of your NOC will be presented to the IOC Executive Board at its next meeting on 4-5 December, 2012," the IOC chiefs said.
The IOA has, however, said that the only point of difference between the Olympic Charter and the Sports Code is the age and tenure clause. The rest of the election norms, according to it, are exactly the same.
The IOC letter goes on to say that "we understand that the IOA strongly condemns those government regulations and government interference in IOA's election process. However, the IOA seems to continue developing its election process on the basis established by the government regulations. The situation is, therefore, extremely confusing, not to say contradictory".
IOC's comments came after IOA slammed the sports ministry for interfering in its election process while the latter blamed the national sports body for mismanagement leading to delay in the polls earlier scheduled for Nov 25.
"Unless you rectify the situation with immediate effect and give a clear and written guarantees to the IOC to ensure that the elections will be held strictly on the basis of the Olympic Charter and the 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 Dec 4-5," said Rogge and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.