The Sports Ministry’s bid to fix the tenure of officials of national sports federations received a setback with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) saying that such measures must not be “decided or imposed by law or an external body”.

In a letter to Sports Minister M.S. Gill, IOC said, “Such measures must be decided freely and democratically by the competent organs of those organisations.”

IOC’s National Olympic Committee relations department director Pere Miro was responding to Sports Ministry joint secretary Injeti Srinivas’s letter on May 7, and said he has been directed by IOC president Jacques Rogge to write back.

IOC said it is willing to discuss these “issues openly and resolve this matter amicably”, but asked the ministry not to impose the guidelines until then.

“In order to further discuss these issues openly and resolve the matter amicably, we would be very pleased to accept your proposal and organise a meeting as possible in Lausanne.”

“Nevertheless, until this dialogue is established, it is our understanding that the guidelines, which you have issues will not be imposed in a mandatory manner on the organisations of the Olympic Movement in India. Otherwise we would unfortunately be obliged to consider the protective measures provided for in the Olympic charter,”

Miro said that a decision on fixing of tenure of officials can be taken only by the respective bodies democratically.

“As we stated clearly in our letter May 3 to IOC member Randhir Singh, which came to your knowledge, the issue is not whether a limitation in the number of terms of office and or an age limit within the organisations of the Olympic Movement (including the NOC) and national federations is appropriate or not. Each one has an opinion on these issues which as far as we are concerned we fully respect.”

“However, our point is that such measures (which relate to the internal operations of these organisations) must not be decided or imposed by law or an external body’s decision, but must be decided freely and democratically by the competent organs of those organisations on a case-by-case basis, and this must be reflected in their respective statutes/constitutions.

“This is our understanding of what autonomy of Olympic Charter and sports organisations means.”

Miro said it is one of the basic principles that govern the Olympic Movement, which everyone, including the public authorities in each country, must respect if those organisations wish to continue belonging to the Olympic Movement.

“It is in this spirit that although the IOC has adopted its own internal rules in relation to these matters (which are applicable to the IOC only), the Olympic Charter leaves it upto each NOC, as a responsible and autonomous entity to freely and democratically decide whether they wish to apply similar measures,” Miro said.

“And we do respect the different approaches in this matter, provided only that the minimum requirements stipulated by the Olmpic Charter are respected, that the officers and members of the executive body of an NOC are elected or re-elected at least once every four years.”

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