Union Sports Minister Jitendra Singh has said that even though his Ministry did not have any authority over the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it would try to resolve the issue of IOA’s suspension by the international body.

The Minister said his ministry was ready to make all efforts to sort out the problem. “It is important to move forward and the Government of India will take every possible step to speak with IOC and IOA and impress upon them for the youth and sportsmen of the country. We will also speak to all other stakeholders – the sportspersons, people who have been office-bearers in the past and people who matter to the world of sports. I will take all necessary steps. Even as the ministry has merely the advisory role, we do not have direct jurisdiction or any sort of mandate to impress upon them, but whatever it takes we will try and do for the sportsmen of the country,” said Jitendra Singh.

‘Unfortunate’

Describing the suspension of the IOA as ‘unfortunate,’ the Sports Ministry rejected IOC’s claim that the Indian Olympic body was suspended due to government’s interference. According to the ministry, the National Sports Code was in sync with the Olympic Charter.

“The Government of India strongly feels that the IOC’s decision to attribute suspension to Government interference in the IOA’s election process is entirely misplaced, as the National Sports Development Code includes such age and tenure guidelines for office-bearers of sports bodies as are enshrined in the Olympic Charter itself. They are similar to the practices followed by the IOC and are drawn from the constitution of the IOC and have been upheld by the courts of law in India,” the Ministry said in a release.

“All that the Sports Code seeks to achieve is to ensure that the election of the IOA and others sports bodies are fair, transparent and in consonance with the Olympic Charter.”

The ministry blamed the IOA for the current mess. “It is not the Sports Code, but the IOA’s constitution which is not aligned with the Olympic Charter. The IOA had agreed to amend its constitution in 2010, but has failed to bring about the necessary amendments in the past two years. Had this been done, there would have been no cause for intervention by the IOC.” “The Government is ready to discuss with the IOC and the IOA all issues related to the Sports Code and its compatibility with the Olympic Charter,” the release added.

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