"Decision to suspend IOA unfortunate "
The Indian government on Wednesday said the decision taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as 'unfortunate'.
"The decision taken by International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its Executive Board meeting on 4th December 2012 to suspend Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is very unfortunate," said the Union Sports Ministry in a statement.
"Reasons cited by IOC for suspension of IOA are IOA's failure to comply with the Olympic Charter and its statutes, failure to inform the IOC in a timely manner, and as a protective measure against Government interference in the IOA's election process," said the ministry.
The Sports Ministry said the Executive Board of IOC has also confirmed that the IOA is not entitled to hold any elections until all pending issues are resolved and the Executive Board decides to lift the suspension.
"With this decision of IOC, IOA will no longer be entitled to exercise any activity or right, including financial support, conferred upon it by the Olympic Charter or the IOC until the suspension is lifted by the Executive Board," it said.
"The Government of India strongly feels that the IOC's decision to attribute suspension to Government interference in the IOA's election process is entirely misplaced, as the National Sports Development Code includes such age and tenure guidelines for office-bearers of Sports Bodies as are enshrined in the Olympic Charter itself.
"They are similar to the practices followed by the IOC and are drawn from the Constitution of the IOC and have been upheld by the Courts of Law in India," said the ministry.
"All that the Sports Code seeks to achieve is to ensure that the election of the IOA and others sports bodies are fair, transparent and in consonance with the Olympic Charter."
"In fact, it is not the Sports Code, but the IOA's constitution which is not aligned with the Olympic Charter. The IOA had agreed to amend its constitution in 2010, but has failed to bring about the necessary amendments in the past 2 years. Had this been done, there would have been no cause for intervention by the IOC," said the ministry.
It said the government is also keen that the principles of ethics and good governance enshrined in the Olympic Charter should be rigidly adhered to in the elections of the IOA.
Speaking on discussion on the issues related to the Sports Code, the ministry said: "The Government reiterates that it is ready to discuss with the IOC and the IOA all issues related to the Sports Code and its compatibility with the Olympic Charter."
It said it will take all possible measures to protect the interests of Indian sportspersons 'so that they can continue to participate in international sports meets under the Indian National Flag'.
Meanwhile, Sports Minister Jitendra Singh will also hold discussions with all stakeholders, including the National Sports Federations, the eminent sportspersons, persons from civil society, etc in order to chart a way out of the situation created by the action of the IOC.
India on Tuesday was suspended by the IOC due to IOA's failure to host its elections in an independent fashion.
The decision to suspend the IOA was taken by the IOC in its executive board meeting at its headquarters in Switzerland.
IOA president Vijay Kumar Malhotra said the position is such that they will be not be able to go against the government, the court or the IOC.