New Delhi: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday issued its latest warning to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to resolve its governance issues or face suspension.
The IOC cited internal disputes, governance shortcomings, ongoing court cases and election delays in the IOA as reasons for the warning and possible suspension.
The governing body of the Olympics has given India time until December 2022 to hold its elections or face immediate suspension. The IOC Executive Board will meet the same month.
The AIO has yet to elect a new president after former chief Narinder Batra had to step down in May following court cases. There have also been disputes over the appointment of an interim president, with two people claiming the position.
The IOC Executive Board decided on Thursday not to recognize any “interim/interim” president and to accept IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta as the main point of contact.
In its “Olympic Charter”, the IOC details the rules that must be followed by the National Olympic Committees of the participating countries to safeguard the integrity of sport.
Thursday’s letter to the IOA from James McLeod, Director of Olympic Solidarity and NOC Relations reads: “…given the ongoing internal conflicts, governance shortcomings and business ongoing legal proceedings, (the IOC Executive Board) has taken the decision…to issue a final warning and consider the immediate suspension of the Indian NOC at the next IOC Executive Board meeting in December 2022 if, until then, the NOC of India is unable to address and resolve its governance issues to the satisfaction of the IOC, for the benefit of the sport and the athletes.
If suspended, Indian athletes will not be able to compete under the Indian flag in the Olympics or any other international sporting event.
Additionally, the IOA – the Indian National Olympic Committee – will cease to function as such, as defined in the Olympic Charter. The IOA will also no longer receive funds from the Olympic Movementuntil the suspension is lifted.
If enforced, it will not be India’s first suspension by the IOC.
At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Indian athletes were to enter under the IOC flag, following India suspension by the world body in 2012 for violating the Olympic Charter. Offenses would have included having “tainted” officials.
The ban was survey during the 2014 Winter Olympics tournament, following new elections conducted by the IOA.
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Alleged irregularities, court cases
In 2016, Batra, a veteran sports administrator, became president of the International Hockey Federation. He had previously served as the chairman of Hockey India. A year later, in 2017, Batra became the President of the IOA.
However, in February this year, Olympian hockey player, Aslam Sher Khan filed a ‘conflict of interest’ petition in the Delhi High Court claiming that Batra continued to interfere in the running of Hockey India, although he relinquished his position as Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. body.
In May this year, the Delhi High Court overturned Hockey India’s ‘lifetime membership’, through which Batra contested and won the IOA elections in 2017.
Batra was also charged with embezzlement from Hockey India, causing a RCC investigation against him.
After Batra stepped down as IOA President in July, former All India Tennis Association chief Anil Khanna was appointed as Acting IOA President. However, last month, Athletics Federation of India President Adille Sumariwalla claimed to have been elected Acting/Interim President of the organization, hinting at infighting.
While IOA General Secretary Rajeev Mehta refuted Sumariwalla’s claims, Khanna filed a contempt motion against him.
Meanwhile, a 2010 public interest litigation (PIL) deposit by Delhi-based lead lawyer Rahul Mehra regarding administrative loopholes and loopholes exploited by sports administrators in India also shone a spotlight on the AIO.
Last month, the Delhi HC appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) to direct the IOA and update its constitution to comply with the National Sport Code. The IOA had moved the Supreme Court against the Delhi HC verdict, but the Supreme Court refused to intervene.
The AIO elections were due to take place last December, but were delayed due to changes to the voting process.
Also earlier this year, the IOC had warned the AIO that it would suspend the body if it did not proceed with its election as soon as possible.
With Thursday’s warning being the last, the AIO will need to move quickly to resolve internal disputes to avoid the suspension. The IOC has also declared that its Executive Board reserves the right to take any other action, depending on the evolution of the situation.
Meanwhile, an IOC session, which was due to be held in India in May 2023, has been postponed to September-October next year.
(Editing by Poulomi Banerjee)
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