A day after India was suspended by the International Olympic Committee, Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said he does not have the mandate or the jurisdiction to interfere in the matter but will still try to engage with the IOC to get the ban reversed.
Squarely blaming the Indian Olympic Association for the embarrassment, the Minister said had the IOA amended its Constitution to include government guidelines on age and tenure limitation, the suspension could have been avoided.
“The government does not have any mandate or jurisdiction. We are concerned and that is why we called a meeting of the IOA and wrote to the IOC. That’s not our mandate but we will make all efforts to resolve the issue,” Mr. Singh told reporters here on Wednesday.
“Two days ago I had met IOA officials and warned them that such a ban can come and amend your Constitution. But today instead of playing the blame-game, the need is to have a future strategy.
“I will once again talk to the IOC and write to them that let’s talk about solving this problem for the future of Indian sportspersons. The government will take every step and we are willing to mediate. In the next few days I will also talk to sportspersons on the matter,” he added.
In a major embarrassment for India, the IOC on Tuesday suspended the IOA because of government interference in its election process.
The IOC said that it decided to ban India as the IOA had failed to comply with Olympic Charter and also allowed a tainted official to contest elections for a top post.
The decision was largely expected after the IOA decided to go ahead with the elections today under the government’s Sports Code, defying the IOC’s diktat to hold the polls under the Olympic Charter.
Mr. Singh said the government guidelines remain quite relevant and it is the IOA which needs to put its house in order.
“The sports bill is very important and relevant. Along with that we have to now immediately sit together as it is important for the image of the country, image of sports and sportspersons that this problem is resolved.
“It is very sad that despite IOC warnings, the IOA did not amend its Constitution. The sports code is in sync with the IOC charter, there is no difference,” he said.
Mr. Singh said there has to be a cap on age and tenure of office-bearers.
“I had requested them (the IOA) personally that please incorporate this sports code in your constitution and none of this (the ban) would have happened.
“I feel that in any organisation, including associations, there should be transparency, there should be age limit and there should be a tenure which is very important,” he said.
“I was appealing to a lot of political people as there are many of them in associations and I had requested them that they should use their political clout for the betterment of sports rather than vice versa,” he added.
Singh also rejected suggestions that government’s interference complicated the matter.
“There is no interference from government in running or functioning of any association. We just say that the sports code in which tenure and age limits have been fixed should be incorporated. The courts have also said so in their judgements,” he explained.