In the severest threat held out so far in over two years of “autonomy debate”, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday warned the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that it faced suspension if it went ahead with its elections not adhering to its constitution and the Olympic Charter.
The IOA was given time till November 30 to explain its position that it was ready to hold the December 5 elections as per the directives of the IOC, failing which “the suspension of your NOC will be presented to the IOC Executive Board at its next meeting on 4-5 December, 2012,” the IOC wrote on Friday.
The letter, addressed to the IOA Acting President, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, and Secretary-General, Randhir Singh, was signed by the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President, Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah.
This is the first time Rogge has directly entered the debate about autonomy, violation of the Olympic Charter and suspension threats that had been hanging over the Olympic Movement in the country for more than two years since the Union Government brought in a set of revised tenure guidelines.
That a scathing attack on the IOA from Rogge came on a day when the Delhi High Court had cleared the conduct of the elections on December 5 and at least one faction in the election fray was applauding the court decision was ironic.
It is interesting to note that except for one case of age-bar violation under the sports code (70 years), among the prominent candidates, the election process so far does not breach either the IOA constitution or the Olympic Charter unless the IOC wants to go through the entire process with a fine toothcomb.
The IOC letter was unambiguous. Gone was the repetition of arguments about autonomy that had characterised its approach through two years. It showed that it was prepared to join the fight even as the election process had set in and the court had left the IOA with little choice than to go ahead.
The blame was squarely put on the IOA. There was very little mention about the government and just a passing reference to a court directive.
“Though it is necessary for the IOA to hold its regular quadrennial election process, this election process cannot take place on an incorrect basis and in such confusing context. Should the IOA decide to hold the elections on a basis other than the Olympic Charter and the IOA’s constitution, the results of such elections would not be recognised by the IOC and OCA,” the letter said.
The IOA was told to give “clear and written guarantees” that the elections could be held as per the IOC directives.
The IOC letter stated that though the IOA had objected to government regulations, it seemed to continue with the process. The situation was extremely confusing, the IOC said.
It was pointed out that the Olympic Charter was binding on all parties involved in the Olympic Movement.
It was also mentioned that the IOC and the OCA had objected on numerous occasions for more than two years to the government regulations being imposed on the IOA unless these were reflected in the IOA constitution provided they were compatible with the Charter.
The IOA had opposed the Sports Code of the Government of India since it was brought into force in 2011.
It had been objecting to the Government guidelines for years and had rejected the last set of guidelines in May 2010.
The IOC had arranged a meeting in Lausanne to discuss contentious issues with the ministry and the IOA in June, 2010.
Both parties had made certain commitments.
But the IOC letter noted that the IOA had not made any effort to sort the issue out with the government since then.
Not just that, it did not inform the IOC and the OCA of the order of the Delhi High Court on September 13 last regarding the application of the National Sports Code to the elections.
The IOA has in recent weeks stressed that it was helpless since it was unable to ignore a court order even as it opposed the code.
The IOC stated that the Olympic Charter permitted it to take appropriate decisions for the protection of the Olympic Movement in the country of an NOC including suspension of or withdrawal of recognition from such an NOC.