Sports ministry and IOA turf war intensifies

Posted by on May 5th, 2010 and filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) The tug of war between the sports ministry and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) over the tenure of officials intensified as both opened new fronts Wednesday.

IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi and his senior colleagues met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to explain their stand while the ministry shot off a strongly-worded statement attacking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for objecting to the Indian government fixing tenure of office-bearers of the sports federattions.

It also lashed out at IOA secretary general Randhir Singh for approaching the IOC.

The ministry also offered to depute a senior official to resolve the issue with the apex world sports body.

Kalmadi along with presidents of various sports federations met the prime minister in the morning.

‘We briefed the PM about the issues that threaten the autonomy of the IOA and sports federations,’ Kalmadi told reporters in the Parliament House complex.

‘We told him we did not like the timing of this order, that too when the Commonwealth Games are near and when the Coordination Commission is in the city to monitor the progress of the Games. This controversy could have been easily avoided,’ Kalmadi said.

Kalmadi was accompanied by other senior sports bosses like Praful Patel (football), V.K. Malhotra (archery), Digvijay Singh (shooting), Randhir Singh (IOA secretary general) and Lalit Bhanot (athletics).

‘We don’t want to go on the offensive. Gill could have waited for the Games to get over. We have also told the PM that all sports federations will work hard to make the Commonwealth Games a huge success,’ Kalmadi said.

‘Randhir (Singh) has given the IOC letter to the PM and he assured us he will look into the matter and will get back to us,’ Kalmadi added.

In the letter, IOC’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) relations director Pere Miro hinted that the world body will not hesitate to impose sanctions on its Indian affiliate if there is too much government interference in the functioning of the federations which, under the Olympic Charter, need to be autonomous.

Later, the ministry accused Randhir of having a ‘conflict of interest on the issue in view of his 23-year-long continuous tenure as IOA secretary general and also an independent member from India on the IOC.’

The sports ministry said ‘it is noting with regret that they were not consulted before the IOC was approached.’

‘The IOC, too, did not seek any inputs from the government before its NOC Relations director sent the letter to Randhir Singh, who in turn has sent it to the government in his dual capacity,’ the ministry said.

‘The government has noted the contents of the letter from the IOC’s NOC Relations director. The government is immediately sending to the highest authorities in the IOC a detailed response on the matter.’

‘The government is also proposing to the IOC that in order to have a thorough and conclusive discussion on the subject, the government would be deputing a senior official to the IOC headquarters at a mutually convenient date to sort out the matter across the table.’

The ministry also said it has taken careful note of various views expressed in media, on the order passed by it restoring the tenure regulation of 1975 which had been blocked by an internal order of 2001.

‘The order came under serious criticism from the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in a civil writ petition disposed of in 2009. The court categorically stated that the tenure regulations were valid, binding and enforceable, and could not be blocked by executive instructions. The court also ruled that these regulations were not in violation of the Olympic Charter,’ the ministry said.

‘The present situation in NSFs/IOA with persons in continuous office from 12 to over 30 years, has also engaged the attention of parliament. In a Rajya Sabha debate on April 22, Hon’ble members of parliament from all political parties urged the government to restore the tenure regulation of 1975.’

‘In its current order, the government has prescribed that the tenure limit will apply prospectively to future elections. In most cases the elections to NSFs would become due after 2011,’ it added.

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