There is a slim chance that the three Indian athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics will get to walk under the Indian flag at the closing ceremony. The formalities of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections were completed and Robin Mitchell, head of the delegation of International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) four-member committee here to oversee the process, hinted that India’s suspension can end within days.
Mitchell was speaking after the election that elevated World Squash Federation chief N Ramachandran, Rajeev Mehta and Anil Khanna as the new IOA chief, secretary general and the treasurer respectively, of the new legitimate body.
“We are very happy at the way the proceedings have happened today. We are reaching Sochi tomorrow night and will submit our report to IOC President and it is up to him when to call the Executive Board meeting to decide on India’s return. We hope it will happen soon,” Mitchell said.
On being asked about the chances of ending the suspension soon enough for the Indian athletes to march under the flag, he said: “We will try to make sure it will happen.”
Shiva Keshawan (luge), Himanshu Thakur (alpine skiing) and Nadeem Iqbal (cross-country skiiing) walked as independent athletes under International Olympic committee flag at the opening ceremony on Friday. IOC’s NOC relations director Pere Miro too said that the delgation was satisfied with the elections process and that they would submit a favourable report to the IOC president.
The term of the newly elected body will end in 2016. “I remember reading the notice that the term ends in 2016. But today is not the day to seek clarification on this issue from IOC,” Ramachandran said. Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot, who would fall under the IOC definition of tainted administrators, did not vote. This was done in order to ensure that the latest IOA elections stayed clear of controversy. IOC had barred tainted administrators from being part of the election process. Though the names of Chautala and Bhanot figured in the electoral list, they did not vote.
Anandeshwar Pandey and Adhip Das resigned immediately after getting elected as the joint secretary and executive council member respectively, to give Olympic Sports Federations a majority in the new executive, another condition that the IOC wanted satisfied. Of the the 25 members elected today, 13 are from sports federations affiliated with the Olympic movement.