The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Thursday slammed the Union Sports Ministry for interfering in its affairs and its election process. The ministry had written a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggesting that there could be a meeting in India with representatives of the IOC ministry and possibly the IOA to sort out issues related to the Sports Code and elections.

It also suggested that the elections to the IOA, rescheduled for December 5, could be postponed till matters were sorted out.

Assault on autonomy

Malhotra called the Sports Secretary, P.K. Deb’s letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge, a “government’s assault on the autonomy of the sports federations.”

In a communiqué to Rogge, the IOA Acting President said the letter by the Sports Secretary to the International body was a bizarre testimony of half truths and distorted facts.

Malhotra objected to Deb writing directly to the IOC, bypassing the IOA. He said it showed the government’s intentions, interests and interference.

“The double speak of the Government of India (GOI) is clear as on one hand it says that it has no ‘intentions whatsoever to interfere in the functioning of the IOA and on the other it is insisting that National Sports Federations (NSF) should accept its so called Sports Code,” he wrote.

“The Sports Code of the GOI violates everything for which the IOA constitution and the IOC charter stand for.

Surprised

“I am surprised at the audacity of the Sports Ministry misrepresent the IOA at the highest international forum,” Malhotra said.

“The only bone of contention between the IOA and the Government is the Sports Code”, which the IOA had rejected outright.

He said the IOA’s constitution had been amended as per the IOC charter and had been approved by the IOC and to say that IOA lacked good governance was wrong.

The IOC had made it clear in the letters to the IOA that “the NOC internal operations, decision making mechanisms, election arrangements etc. all come under the exclusive responsibility and competence of the NOC and must not be subject to any external pressure or interference.”

The number of terms of the office-bearers and a potential age limit for the members of the NOC or the NSF should not be decided or imposed by law or external body’s decision but “shall be decided by the respective organizations”.

The Sports Code of the Government of India is exactly opposite to the Olympic Charter. Malhotra informed the IOC that the election process had already started and candidates had filed their nominations.

Regarding Deb’s suggestion of a meeting between the IOA, IOC and Government of India’s officials,

Malhotra said he had no objection provided the ministry kept the Sports Code in abeyance.