The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has asked Sports Ministry to initiate a dialogue on proposed changes in the draft Sports Code, with a veiled warning that any unilateral action on the part of the government could invite another suspension of the country by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). IOA President Narinder Batra in an e-mail to the ministry said the government has not held any discussion with it or the National Sports Federations on the draft Sports Code and also cited “a level of mistrust” with regards to past discussions.
He said any chages to the Sports Code also need consent from the International Olympic Committee. “The Ministry had given an affidavit in an ongoing case in Delhi High Court in early 2017 in relation to Draft New Sports Code that it will discuss the draft code with all the stakeholders. Nothing has been done till now in this regard and no discussion has even been initiated with the main stakeholder IOA till date or any other stakeholder,” Batra wrote in his letter.
“Indian NOC was de recognized by IOC in 2012 and recognized again in 2014, one of the reasons for this de recognition was interference by Govt in the autonomy of NOC and NSFs of India…. if govt does not want IOA de-recognised again and does not want teams to go to 2020 Tokyo Olympics under IOA flag, then all changes to the code after agreement with IOA will need to have consent from IOC,” he said. Quoting relevant portions of the minutes of the meeting IOA officials had with the then sports secretary in April 2013, Batra said that the revised statutes of IOA in 2014 (when the suspension of the IOA was revoked) had the approval of the Ministry.
“We fail to understand what had changed between 2014 and now that we are again looking at changes in Sports Code,” he said. “Further when P K Deb was Secretary Sports in 2013, we as IOA and NSFs reached an agreement with him and which is minuted, the ministry has till date not taken any action on it, hence there is a level of mistrust as to how much the sanctity of the discussion with ministry can be trusted.”
He said the recent Executive Council meeting of the IOA on June 2 had approved a committee to initiate discussion with the Ministry to understand the concerns of the government on the issue of good governance and on where it (the Ministry) feels the NOC and NSFs are still lacking. “We are very open to understand and resolve the issues. From our main committee we will form a committee of five persons headed by President IOA along with four Senior Members of IOA to initiate and start this dialogue with you and Ministry on concerns of Ministry in relation to Sports Code and Good Governance issues so that we can sit together and resolve these issues amicably.
“Kindly advice on time for meeting with the five members from IOA to discuss on your concerns in Sports Code and to sit together and sort them out in a cordial and amicable manner.” Batra also took swipe at the Sports Ministry for “telling NSFs and SOAs that IOA president was part to drafting of the New Sports Code”, saying he was not IOA chief when the committee was formed last year.
“… in fact is not true and correct. I am through this mail requesting your office that all in Ministry and SAI be directed to please stop this spread of misinformation since I was part of this committee as President of FIH and I had nothing to do with NOC of India at that point of time,” said Batra who took charge as IOA chief in December last year.