Pullouts of VK Malhotra,Randhir Singh from the Indian delegation for the IOC meeting may hurt IOAs reinstatement hopes
It’s been five months since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). At the time,many had welcomed the move,saying it would serve as a wake-up call for the Indian body,with two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar going as far as thanking the IOC for the decision. But little has happened since,as shown by last week’s squabbling over the country’s delegation for the all-important meeting with the IOC in Lausanne on Wednesday.
The IOC will not take a decision on whether to revoke the suspension on Wednesday. They will chart a road map which the IOA and the government will have to follow. The final judgment on India regaining its old status will be taken by the IOC’s executive board only after all its demands are met. The Indian delegation,on the other hand,will be keen to put forth a united front and assure the IOC that all necessary steps will be taken to secure India’s return.
And therein lies the problem. With acting IOA president V K Malhotra and Randhir Singh secretary general of the suspended IOA and of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA),and an IOC member pulling out of the meeting,will the Indian officials be able to convince the IOC that they all are on the same page?
Tarlochan Singh,one of IOA’s representatives at the meeting,is optimistic. He insists that the egos have been shelved to a certain extent and that they’ll be able to convince the IOC. “However important one or two individuals may be,this meeting is about securing India’s return to the IOC,” he says. “The ban is wrong. The IOC has not taken facts into account while making the decision.”
Malhotra and Randhir decided to skip the meeting after the IOC invited Narinder Batra for the meeting. The Hockey India secretary general is a close confidant of Abhay Chautala and Lalit Bhanot,who were elected as president and general secretary during December’s IOA elections,which triggered India’s suspension. While Chautala and Bhanot have both maintained silence since IOA’s suspension,they have continued working behind the scenes. The duo attended several meetings with the sports ministry,ensuring that Batra get on to the plane to Lausanne and in turn making sure that someone voices their opinion to the IOC.
Malhotra and Randhir contest that by accepting Batra in the panel,the IOC is indirectly giving importance to the IOA,a body they themselves have derecognised. But by not attending the meeting,are the duo affecting India’s chances? The general belief is that Randhir’s absence might do so. “He is India’s voice in the IOC and also the secretary general of the OCA. He has considerable influence over the IOC members so it would have been beneficial for India if he was present during the meeting,” an IOA official says.
Then there is the sports code. The policy has been the point of contention between the sports ministry and various federations for long. Soon after IOC cracked the whip on the IOA,the government made the most of the opportunity,taking action against the archery,athletics and boxing federations for failing to meet the guidelines.
Sports secretary PK Deb,also a part of the delegation,says it was necessary to be strict against these federations. “Once we started taking action against the federations,the rest have fallen in line. Apart from the archery federation,all have accepted the age and tenure and RTI clauses something that has happened for the first time since 1975,” he says.
“This isn’t an infringement of their autonomy,it’s something that’s required to keep a check on the federations. We hope the IOC recognises that.”