Sunday, Sep 21, 2014

India’s 14-month Olympic exile ends

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai | Posted: February 12, 2014 3:47 am | Updated: February 12, 2014 1:32 pm

After spending 14 months in exile, India is back in the Olympic fold. The ban on Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was revoked by International Olympic Committee’s executive board’s decision on Tuesday. The decision comes just two days after IOA conducted fresh elections in presence of senior IOC officials. World Squash Federation president N Ramachandran was elected president during the elections on Sunday, with Rajeev Mehta as the general secretary and Anil Khanna as treasurer.

The IOC delegation, headed by senior member Robin Mitchell, submitted report upon reaching Sochi on Monday. Satisfied with the process, the IOC treated the issue on priority basis and since all the executive board members were present in Sochi, an ad-hoc meeting was convened on Tuesday morning, where the decision to end IOA’s exile from the Olympic fold was taken.

“We observed IOA’s general assembly on Sunday and are happy with the changes. Our prerequisite to keep convicted or charge-framed persons out have been adhered to. Hence, it was decided to revoke the ban with immediate effect,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said on Tuesday.

Tri-colour raised in sochi

To mark the lifting of suspension, the IOC held a special ceremony to raise the tri-colour at the Olympic Village in Sochi. The Indian athletes at the Sochi Games will now be allowed to compete under the national flag. The three-member Indian contingent marched under the Olympic flag during the opening ceremony on Friday.

The IOA has been on collision course with its parent body ever since December 2012. The IOC said India failed to comply with its statutes, relating specifically to good governance, and hence was banned from the Olympic movement. Consequently, IOA was not entitled to exercise any activity or right, including financial support, conferred upon it by the IOC.

The IOC also objected to the presence of tainted officials in the new administration, particularly opposing the appointment of Lalit Bhanot as the secretary general. Bhanot was one of the key accused in the Commonwealth Games corruption scandal and served close to nine months in prison. Abhay Singh Chautala, who was elected president in the polls which were declared null and void, too was forced to step aside as there are cases pending against him.

Clean up

The suspension proved to be a blessing in disguise as it provided an opportunity to clean up the mess within. The IOA, which was pilloried for lack of transparency and dishing out step-motherly treatment towards the athletes, was made to incorporate several changes in its constitution. The sports ministry proposed sports code, which brings it under the ambit of RTI, has been implemented without any opposition and an independent ethics committee has also been formed.

Randhir Singh, an IOC member from India and the secretary general of Olympic Council of Asia, insisted that the country is better placed now, than it was two years ago.

“The biggest lesson we have learnt from this episode is that tainted officials have no place. The IOA needs to be an athlete-friendly organisation and under the leadership of Ramachandran, I hope that continued…

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