What are the implications of the suspension imposed on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)?

Till the other day, when a fresh twist was given to the suspension of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) by the international federation (AIBA), one had understood that Indian athletes would not be able to compete in multi-discipline games that came under the jurisdiction of the IOC, namely the Olympics and the Asian Games.

However, at least the AIBA has a different view on the matter and it was conveyed to IABF officials by none other than its president, Wu Ching-Kuo in Yerevan, Armenia, during the World Youth championship recently.

Dr. Wu Ching-Kuo told IABF Senior Vice President, P.K. Muralidharan Raja that the suspension (on IABF) would remain until the IOC lifted the ban on IOA.

“The IOC ban implies that India cannot participate in international events,” Brig. Raja said on Sunday, about what he had been told by the AIBA chief.

A look at the AIBA constitution or by-laws shows that there is no provision by which the federation can suspend a National federation just because the IOC has suspended the concerned National Olympic Committee (NOC).

Other international federations did not seem to have been influenced by the IOC decision at this stage at least.

“There is no connection between an IOC sanction of its NOC and the federation of athletics which is affiliated to IAAF — so, for now, there is no impact on participation of Indian federation and its athletes at IAAF events,” said Nick Davies, Deputy Secretary-General and Communications Director of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), in an email message on Monday.

“The IOC decision has no impact on FIH events,” said Ms. Jenny Wiedeke, Communications Manager of the International Hockey Federation, in another message.

Contrary to what is being constantly projected in sections of the media, the IOC sanction does not allow Indian athletes to compete under the Olympic flag etc., though that could be a possibility if the situation arose.

At the moment, it is a blanket ban on IOA and athletes, too, since only an NOC can enter a team in the Olympics and the Asian Games while in the absence of a Commonwealth Games Association, the IOA normally performs the function for the Commonwealth Games also.

“The IOA has lost all the rights covered by the Olympic Charter. Today, for Indian athletes it is not possible to take part in any competition under IOC jurisdiction. The IOC has always had the intention to protect the athletes. But for the moment, there is no exception,” an agency report had quoted IOC’s NOC Relations Director, Pere Miro, on December 4.

However, the Olympics (2016) and the Asian Games and Commonwealth (both 2014) are too far away at the moment to cause serious concern to Indian athletes.

The IOC has warned that there could be further sanctions in case the suspended IOA did not take remedial measures. It had stated that it reserved the right to look into the status of Indian athletes in Olympic-related (qualifying) events, too.

Though the IOA continues to be suspended, theoretically at least, the election of Abhay Chautala as its president on December 5 should not run into a problem on account of the IABF suspension since the Indian federation was a legitimately affiliated unit of the AIBA and thus a valid member of the IOA when his nomination was made and the elections were held.

In fact the IOA elections happened just a day before the IABF suspension. Chautala was nominated by the general meeting of the IABF as a representative to attend the IOA meeting and his “elevation” to the newly-created post of chairman of the federation had nothing to do with his right to attend the IOA meeting — or to contest — as an IABF ‘representative.’