The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday at its Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, apparently for ignoring its warning against holding its elections under the National Sports Code.
The Associated Press, quoting two officials with knowledge of the decision, said a formal decision would be made at the end of the first day’s Executive Board meeting.
With details yet to come in about the consequences of the action that will have to be taken by the Executive itself, there was speculation in the sports circles, especially among athletes, that this could lead to India’s complete isolation from international sports.
However, such a blanket ban from the Olympic Movement, like that of South Africa during its apartheid days, is never imposed by the IOC for violations like the present Indian breach. Nor is the suspension maintained indefinitely.
The news forced at least one faction of the IOA to assess the situation and review its strategy for Wednesday’s elections, while the other faction called it the most shameful chapter in the history of the Olympic body.
IOA Acting President Vijay Kumar Malhotra said that part of the election process, including the unanimous choice of all the key office-bearers, having been completed, the Annual General Meeting of the IOA on Wednesday would take a decision on the next step.
There was talk of taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), especially in view of the lack of hearing afforded to the IOA before the suspension was slapped on it. IOA sources also pointed that the elections were yet to take place though the process had been going on since November 5.
The contentious issue had been the tenure guidelines of the Union Government that the IOA has not accepted, but has been ordered to follow by the Delhi High Court in the elections. The IOC has objected to the IOA enforcing regulations that are not part of its constitution and are against the Olympic Charter.
Union Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said it was an “unfortunate” development. He pointed out that his ministry had written to the IOC but had not received a reply so far.