Notwithstanding the IOC ban on the country, India will host the prestigious Asian Athletics Championships in Chennai in July as the continental athletics body on Saturday gave its go-ahead to the event.
Asian Athletics Association (AAA) came out with the decision at its Executive Council meeting. AAA had allotted the Championships to Chennai way back in May last year but element of doubts arose after IOA was banned by the IOC last month on the ground of government interference.
The International Olympic Committee had also directed the international federations to ensure that National Sports Federations in India function without any interference from the government and enjoy autonomy and act accordingly after studying the situation.
AAA Secretary Maurice Nicholas told PTI after the meeting that the Championships will go ahead as scheduled from July 3-7.
The meeting was chaired by AAA president and Commonwealth Games scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi. International Association of Athletics Federations’ President Lamine Diack was also present at the meeting.
“The Championships will go ahead in Chennai in July. The preparations are going on well. I have visited the venue (Nehru Stadium in Chennai) and I am satisfied,” Nicholas said after the meeting.
“We also approved the calendar for this year and Chennai will host the third leg of the Asian Grand Prix athletics series on May 16,” he said.
The other two legs will be held in Bangkok (May 8) and Colombo (May 12).
Asked about the criticism on Kalmadi chairing the meeting despite his alleged involvement in the CWG scam, Nicholas said, “He (Kalmadi) had the backing of his federation (AFI) when he was elected (in 2009). He is the AAA president and naturally he will chair the council meeting.”
Kalmadi, who had been at the helm of AAA affairs since 2000, was re—elected for his third four—year term in 2009 in Guangzhou ahead of the Asian Athletics Championships in that Chinese city.
The Asian body will hold it elections in the AAA Congress just ahead of the Asian Championships in Chennai.
Asked about AFI holding a Special General Body Meeting on Sunday to amend its constitution due to government’s de-recognition threat, Nicholas said, “We don’t interfere in what the national bodies do in their internal functioning.”
The AFI has agreed to holding re-election under the government’s controversial Sports Code after the Sports Ministry refused to recognise the president, secretary and treasurer who were elected in March last year.