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Tricolour for Sochi only if IOA advances polls: IOC

The IOA is scheduled to hold the elections on February 9,two days after start of Sochi Olympics.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai | Published: December 12, 2013 1:53 am

Even though positive signs emerged on Tuesday after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ‘welcomed’ Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA’s) decision to amend its constitution and hold fresh elections,the Winter Olympians are staring at the prospect of being left out in cold. The IOC cleared the participation of Indian athletes in the Sochi Winter Games next year and added that if the IOA moves forward its elections and conducts it before the Sochi Olympics,it could act quickly enough to allow India’s athletes to compete under their national flag.

However,that is unlikely to happen. The IOA is scheduled to hold the elections on February 9,two days after the start of Sochi Olympics. S Reghunathan,who chaired Sunday’s special general meeting,said the officials will meet again this week to see if they can prepone the elections. However,another senior official,requesting anonymity,ruled out such a possibility,meaning the athletes representing the country are likely to suffer the ignominy of taking part under the Olympic flag. The IOC also made it clear that in such a scenario,no Indian “symbol or flag” would be used at the Games.

“Should the NOC (IOA,in this case) not be able to complete the remaining steps of the agreed roadmap by the start of the Sochi Games in February,the EB decided that any Indian athlete that qualifies to compete at Sochi 2014 would be allowed to compete as an independent Olympic participant under the Olympic flag,” an IOC spokesperson said.

Reghunathan said they had to take several factors into account before advancing the election date.

“The decision to hold the elections on February 9 was taken by the members unanimously at our meeting on Sunday. We got the IOC’s reply on Tuesday so we will meet this week and discuss the possibility of preponing it,” Reghunathan said.

“There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before we decide on it. We need to give a notice before conducting the elections and ensure all the members are present. We have just three to five athletes who qualify (for Winter Games). We can’t act in haste. We need to ensure the proper process is followed.”

India are likely to send a three-member contingent for the Sochi Olympics. Seasoned luger Shiva Keshavan,who will take part in his fifth Olympics,will lead the Indian team that is also likely to consist of a male and female skier,who will be finalised after a qualification tournament in Turkey next month.

Keshavan said the climate of uncertainty is not conducive for the athletes. “The IOC has clarified that I will be able to compete under the Olympic flag in case the suspension of the IOA continues. The International Luge Federation as well as our IOC member Mr. Randhir Singh have assured that they will send the necessary documentation before the deadline,” he said.

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