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IOC says fine with amending IOA constitution; to hold elections under newly-approved provisions


Express News Service

CHENNAI: The way things stand, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) seems to be heading towards resolving issues that had been plaguing the body for quite some time. The IOA delegate, athletes’ representative and the Government of India had a meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday and it is understood that the meeting went off well. One major decision was the IOC agreeing with amending the IOA constitution to include “necessary governance reforms”. The IOC is hopeful that things will be resolved before the executive board meeting in December.

The IOC, in a mailed statement to The New Indian Express, said: “A joint meeting between the IOC, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), a representative of the Indian athletes, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Government of India took place on 27 September 2022 in Lausanne. All parties agreed to work together to address and resolve the governance issues affecting the IOA, and hold the IOA elections by December this year, in line with the directives given in the IOC EB decision on 8 September 2022.”

“The IOC also took note of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of India to appoint a former judge to work on the amendments of the IOA Constitution, prepare the electoral college and supervise the IOA elections,” they added.

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“The whole process will have to be conducted in close coordination with the IOC, and in accordance with the Olympic Charter and the basic principles of good governance within the Olympic Movement. As a first step, the IOA Constitution will be amended to include the necessary governance reforms and, as a second step, the IOA elections will be held on the basis of the newly-approved IOA Constitution.”

In Indian sports, it’s easier said than done. One such sticking point would be amending the constitution to bring in governance change and prepare the electoral college according to it. Things could get worse as there are two factions. One is led by Rajeev Mehta, IOA secretary general. As of now, in the absence of former IOA chief Narinder Batra the other is led by Adille Sumariwalla, IOA vice president. Both factions seem to be at loggerheads with each other with no sign of truce.

Under the circumstances, getting the electoral college in order would be the first challenge. The Supreme Court has already appointed retired judge L Nageswara Rao for amending the constitution and holding the elections under the new provisions.

Earlier, in a July letter, the IOC had insisted that the election be held according to provisions of the existing IOA constitution and the Olympic Charter. However, after the Tuesday meeting, the IOC is fine with changing the constitution. It needs to be seen if all the 13 provisions of the Delhi High Court order would be incorporated or whether the Supreme Court would allow the court-appointed person to make changes as required.

One such clause in the IOA constitution that could bring in significant change is the doing away with the restrictive one that says to contest for the post of president, secretary and treasurer, one has to be a member of the previous five executive councils. This has been one of the provisions even the sports ministry had been objecting to. This would pave the way for candidates who were not part of the IOA to contest.

The anxiety in the IOA is palpable as all eyes would be on the retired judge. Apart from the restrictive clause, the main concern would be whether the state Olympic association will have voting rights or not? Whether only National Sports Federations part of the Olympic programme will be allowed to vote? Whatever it is, it seems the new constitution will decide which way the IOA meanders.

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