The 'war of letters' between the Union Government and the sports administrators hotted up on Saturday with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) writing to the Union Sports Minister and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President warning them of the consequences of Government interference in the functioning of the National Sports Federations (NSFs).
The joint letter by the two supreme bodies that govern world sport and Asian sport was in response to a letter written to the IOC by Joint Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Injeti Srinivas, on May 12 last.
The letter addressed to the Sports Minister, M.S. Gill, and the IOA President, Suresh Kalmadi, was signed by the NOC Relations Director of the IOC, Pere Miro, and the Director-General of the OCA, Husain Al-Musallam.
Copies of the letter have been marked to the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, the OCA President, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al- Sabah, the IOC Member in India, Randhir Singh, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).
The letter sought the co-operation of the ministry and the IOA to “resolve this issue amicably” in order to ensure that the autonomy of the Olympic Movement in India was fully respected.
In addition to re-iterating its stand that the National sports organisations must respect — and be in a position to respect — the Olympic Charter, the IOC-OCA letter, dated May 21, states: “We have taken note of the unanimous position taken recently by the Indian Olympic Association and National Sports Federations in India against the directives issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on 1 May…”
The letter further states: “In view of this we would like to remind you, once more, that in the event where directives issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports would be imposed on the Olympic Movement in India (even for future elections) we would be forced to report this case to the next IOC Executive Board meeting (in June) according to the rules of the Olympic Charter, in particular Rule 28.9..”
Take appropriate decisions
The particular rule allows the IOC EB to take appropriate decisions for the protection of the Olympic Movement in the country of a National Olympic Committee (NOC) including suspension or withdrawal of recognition from such NOC if the “constitution, law or other regulations” of the country hamper the activity of the NOC.
The ministry's last letter to the IOC had posed the question why IOC was not laying down tenure norms for NOCs and federations while having amended its own rules in 1999 to restrict the terms of its office-bearers.
The IOA and the federations are defying the Government in its implementation of the guidelines, especially the restoration of a tenure clause dating back to 1975, arguing that it eroded their autonomy and was in breach of the Olympic Charter.
The IOA and the NSFs have rejected the complete 2001 guidelines as well as the amended set of clauses in the latest order of the ministry after having followed many of the guidelines since 1975.
Keywords: Sports Ministry