In what is perhaps a huge embarrassment to Indian sport, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) because of apparent Government interference in the IOA’s election process. The decision was taken after much deliberation on Tuesday 4th Dec in Laussane, Switzerland. The IOA did not heed the repeated warnings given by the International Olympic Committee and has now paid the price. A conflict of interest arose between the two associations when the IOA was directed by the Delhi High court to hold elections as per the Government code while IOC wanted the Indian body to adhere to the Olympic Charter.
The Indian Olympic Association was involved in a lot of controversies recently especially after its former president Suresh Kalmadi was jailed for corruption charges during the Commonwealth Games 2010. More recently Lalit Bhanot, who is also facing charges in the CWG 2010, was reappointed as Secretary General of the association. With the IOA showing no tendency to rectify itself, the suspension was the last nail in the coffin.
The suspension comes in the wake of the elections which were scheduled to take place on Wednesday for various posts in the IOA. The Indian officials were rather tight-lipped about the recent happenings. In New Delhi, acting IOA president V.K.Malhotra said that the association has not yet been intimated about any suspension. Meanwhile, Indian Sports Minister Jitendra Singh expressed his worries over the fate of the Indian sportsmen. On the other hand, former Indian athletes including Mansher Singh and Ashwini Nachappa came out in support of the decision and added that it was a great chance to cleanse Indian sport.
The ramifications of this huge decision are far reaching. Indian athletes would no longer be allowed to take part in International events- particularly the 2014 Asian Games and the 2016 Olympics. However, they could be allowed to participate as Independent athletes under an international flag instead of the tri-colour. The IOA would receive no further technical expertise and R&D funding from the IOC. India can no longer host an Olympic or an Olympic-like event.
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Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.