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Govt Hardens Stand, To Send Official To IOC

Unfazed by the strong reaction to its controversial guideline on tenure limitation of sports bosses, the Government today sought to clear the roadblocks on its implementation by sending a senior official to deal with the
PTI May 05, 2010 20:06 IST
PTI

Unfazed by the strong reaction to its controversial guideline on tenure limitation of sports bosses, the Government today sought to clear the roadblocks on its implementation by sending a senior official to deal with the IOC even as worried administrators met the Prime Minister to seek his intervention on the issue.

A day after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) warned that government interference may invite an international ban on the country, the Sports Ministry hit back by deciding to directly interact with the International Olympic Committee on the issue, a move which is being interpreted as hardening of stance.

The government said it would send a detailed response and offered to send an official to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss the matter.

"Government is immediately sending to the highest authorities in IOC, a detailed response on the matter," said an official statement issued today.
 
"Government is also proposing to IOC that in order to have a thorough and conclusive discussion on the subject, Government would be deputing a senior official, to the IOC headquarters, at a mutually convenient date to sort out the matter across the table," it added.

The Sports Ministry's move came after the IOA flaunted letters of support from the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia which warned India of dire consequences in case of governmental interference.

The day unfolded with sports bosses, many of whom are parliamentarians, meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking his intervention in the matter.

"The PM told us that he will look into the matter and get back to us. If you fiddle with the autonomy, you get into trouble. If IOC imposes sanctions it can bring to a standstill all sports activity in the country," IOA president Suresh Kalmadi told reporters.

Apart from Kalmadi, the 20-member delegation included IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh, Archery Association of India chief V K Malhotra and All India Football Federation president Praful Patel.

Kalmadi yet again lashed out at Sports Minister M S Gill for the timing of the move.

"Dr Gill should have come up with this idea after the Commonwealth Games. The timing (of the sports ministry's move) was not good," he said.

The Sports Ministry subsequently retaliated as it singled out Randhir Singh for his "conflict of interests".

"It has to be regrettably emphasised that Randhir Singh, who is an independent member from India on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has clearly a conflict of interest on the tenure issue, in view of his 23-year-long continuous tenure as Secretary General, Indian Olympic Association(IOA)," it said.
 
"Further, it is noted with regret, that the IOC member did not consult Government before approaching IOC. The IOC too did not seek any inputs from Government before its NOC Relations Director sent the letter to Randhir Singh, who, in turn, has sent it to Government in his dual capacity," it added.

The government maintained the regulation came after the Delhi High Court had criticised the Sports Ministry for its inaction in implementing the guideline introduced back in 1975.

'The Court categorically stated that the tenure regulations were valid, binding and enforceable and could not be blocked by executive instructions. The Court also ruled that these regulations were not in violation of the Olympic Charter," the statement said.

The government said there was a consensus in the parliament on the regulation and pointed out that it would apply from the next elections of the NSFs, including IOA, most of which are scheduled after 2011.

Sports administrators are up in arms against the new regulation which says National Sports Federation (NSF) presidents cannot continue for more than 12 years, with or without break, while secretaries and treasurers can serve eight years at a stretch but would have to take a four-year break before seeking a reelection.

The new regulation seeks to end the long stay of NSF chiefs like Kalmadi, VK Malhotra (archery), Jagdish Tytler (judo), VK Verma (badminton), BS Adityan (volleyball) and SS Dhindsa (cycling) among others. PTI