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India could be kicked out of Olympics: Bach

The IOC suspended the Indian body a year ago because of government interference in its election process.

Written by Associated Press | Lausanne |
December 8, 2013 2:05:27 am

India faces the ultimate sanction of being kicked out of the Olympic movement unless it keeps corruption-tainted officials out of its ranks,IOC President Thomas Bach said. Bach said the IOC is prepared to withdraw recognition of the Indian Olympic Association if it fails to comply with “rules of good governance” by Tuesday. “It’s about the principles,” Bach said. “Good governance for the IOC is a key issue. We need to be strict and to make sure the rules of good governance are being applied.” If India is thrown out,it would be the first time a country has been kicked out of the Olympic movement since South Africa was expelled for its racial segregation policies more than 40 years ago.

The Indian Olympic body is scheduled to meet Sunday in New Delhi to consider amending its constitution to meet the IOC’s directive. If there is no breakthrough,the IOC executive board is set to recommend “de-recognition” of the Indian committee at its meeting on Tuesday in Lausanne. “We will see if there is any last-moment movement,” Bach said. “If not,then we have to consider to take the next step.”

The IOC suspended the Indian body a year ago because of government interference in its election process. While many of the issues have been resolved since then,the Indians have yet to agree to the IOC demand to bar officials who have been charged with a criminal offense. “The (Olympic) charter is clear,” Bach said. “If the suspension leads to no solution,then further steps could be withdrawal of recognition.”

The IOC executive board could take a preliminary decision on withdrawing recognition of India. A final ruling would go to the full IOC,which next meets in Sochi,Russia,in early February on the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“Withdrawal of recognition would mean there is no NOC (National Olympic Committee) any more in India,” Bach said. “That means no participation,no subsidies.” Under the current suspension,the Indian body has stopped receiving IOC funding and its officials have been banned from attending Olympic meetings and events. India’s athletes are barred from competing in Olympic events under their national flag. The ruling could keep Indian athletes out of the Olympics and related events such as the Asian Games.

“In the Olympics we would have to see whether we would find individual solutions,but they could in no way represent India,” Bach said. “We always want to protect the interest of the athletes. We have to consider a way. I cannot tell you what the result will be.”

India’s participation could also be affected for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon,South Korea,from Sept. 19-Oct. 4. The IOC has been involved in back-and-forth discussions with India for months. The main issue stems from last year’s election of IOA secretary-general Lalit Bhanot,who had been jailed for 10 months in a corruption case related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The IOC has told the Indian body that anyone charged with an offense by Indian police should be barred from holding office. The Indians have proposed that the directive be limited to barring only those found guilty and sentenced to a jail term of two or more years by a court.

Chautala,Bhanot may step down from IOA

Left with no other choice but to step aside,Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot’s stint with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is set to end on Sunday. The IOA is likely to bow down to International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) demand of keeping tainted officials out when its special general body meets in New Delhi. “We have no other option but to amend our constitution as IOC wants it. De-recognition will be embarrassing and disastrous for the country,we cannot afford that. The concerned officials certainly feel targeted and singled out,but they have more or less agreed to step down,” a top IOA official said. It is believed that Bhanot will step down,Chautala is still hoping that he will be allowed to continue. The meeting will be chaired by S Reghunathan and the dates for IOA elections will also be decided on Sunday. —Mihir Vasavda

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