Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In a big boost to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the National Sports Federations (NSFs), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has written to the Union Sports Ministry reiterating its stand regarding the necessity to maintain the autonomy of the Olympic Movement.

The IOC, in a letter addressed to the Union Sports Minister, M.S. Gill, has stated that the matter could be resolved amicably through dialogue.

However, in a veiled threat, the IOC letter signed by its NOC relations Director, Pere Miro, states: “Nevertheless, until this dialogue is established, it is our understanding that the guidelines which you have issued will not be imposed in a mandatory manner on the organisations of the Olympic Movement in India. Otherwise, we would unfortunately be obliged to consider the protective measures provided in the Olympic Charter.”

Most severe comments

The protective measures include suspension of an NOC, effectively bringing to a halt practically all its international sports activities.

In what has turned out to be the most severe comments regarding the ongoing tussle between the Sports Ministry and the IOA and the NSFs, the IOC has clarified its position unambiguously. It was responding to a letter written by the Joint Secretary, Injeti Srinivas, on May 7.

Mr. Miro stated, in his letter dated May 10, that he was directed by the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, to write to the ministry.

The letter stated that even though the IOC had adopted its own internal rules for its elections and tenure of office-bearers, the Olympic Charter left the matter up to the NOC concerned to draw up its own rules.

The only stipulation was that the members and the executive of an NOC should be elected or re-elected once every four years.

The IOC said that rules and regulations should not be imposed by law or an external body and they should be decided freely by the competent organs of the sports organisations.

“This is our understanding of what autonomy of the Olympic and sports organisations means, and it is one of the basic principles that govern the Olympic Movement which everyone, including the public authorities in each country, must respect if those organisations wish to continue belonging to the Olympic Movement,” the letter said.

The IOC expressed the hope that the matter would be resolved amicably in the best interests of the “Olympic Movement and the athletes in India.”

In reply to the IOC letter, Mr. Srinivas wrote on Wednesday stating that the ministry would be again in touch with the IOC once there was clarity in the matter pending before the Delhi High Court regarding a public interest litigation dealing with the NSFs.

The ministry letter once again pointed out, as in its earlier communication, that “Parliamentarians from all parties strongly urged some reasonable limit to the unending tenures of the office-bearers.”

Logic questioned

Pointing out the IOC's own constitutional changes to restrict tenures and to put an age limit for its members, the ministry letter questioned the logic behind the IOC ruling that the NOC office-bearers could continue for any number of years.

“Surely, the IOC, while not directing, could in the interest of world sports, and the good management of NOCs, advise them to consider the IOC practice,” the letter said.

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