Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Re-iterating its stand that it did not endorse the draft National Sports Policy, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday called for more focus on sportspersons in the coming weeks and months in order to realise India’s ambitions at the global level.

“Our focus has to be on our sportspersons. We have to produce results. The (draft) policy falls short of achieving these objectives,” said IOA Secretary-General Randhir Singh on Tuesday.

Critical of the Union Sports Ministry’s move to form a sports regulatory authority, as mooted in the draft policy, Randhir Singh had to face awkward questions on the bunglings and faction fights in the federations, the IOA’s apathy and the need to have some kind of accountability when public funds were utilised.

Though he agreed with the argument that the IOA and the National federations had to be made accountable, Randhir Singh saw no merit in the proposal to set up a regulatory body that could go into the issues of disputes within federations, mismanagement and even biased selections.

Concurrent List

The Union Sports Ministry proposes to introduce legislation for establishing a regulatory authority, but before doing so it may have to seek political consensus for bringing sports into the Concurrent List of the Constitution.

The topic of ‘Concurrent List’ is another area that has drawn opposition from the IOA. Randhir Singh said it was an attempt to control the IOA and the federations. His repeated reference to the Olympic Charter to buttress the argument on autonomy prompted mediapersons to ask whether the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had different sets of rules for several other countries where government control in sports was an acknowledged fact.

Randhir Singh, who is also a member of the IOC, explained that India being a democratic country had its own laws and rules and regulations and the IOA and the Government had to function within the given system.

He said the tussle between the Government and the Olympic Movement over autonomy had been there over the years, but time had come to “work together as one family” for the betterment of Indian sports. He pointed out that additional funds for preparing the teams for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held here were yet to be approved by the ministry.

Meeting of federations

A meeting of the federations has been convened by the IOA on September 1 and another of the State Olympic Associations on September 7 to discuss the draft policy.

The IOA has come up with a proposal to conduct National Club Games competitions in volleyball, kabaddi, football, hockey (men and women) and kho-kho. Different villages will form the teams and qualify for the National-level meet after coming through block, district, inter-district, State and zonal level competitions.

Randhir Singh said that competitions would be organised in the off year for National Games in consultation with the Panchayati Raj Ministry.

Incidentally, that ministry is headed by Union Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar.

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