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India back in Olympic fold after IOC lifts ban

Last updated on: February 11, 2014 14:00 IST

In news that will please Indian sports lovers, Indian Olympic Association secretary-general Rajeev Mehta confirmed on Tuesday that the International Olympic Committee has lifted the ban on India.

India's Olympic ban liftedThe Indian body returned to the Olympic fold after a 14-month suspension following the election of N Ramachandran as Indian Olympic Association president after fresh elections were held on Sunday.

India's athletes have been competing at the Winder Olympics in Sochi under the Olympic flag due to the country's suspension, imposed after the IOA held a 2012 election in which a corruption-tainted official was voted in as secretary-general.

On Sunday, the IOA elected a new set of officials. World Squash Federation chief Ramachandran was elected president, and All India Tennis Association chief Anil Khanna treasurer.

The polls marked the exit of corruption-tainted Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot from the IOA.

"The IOC Executive Board (EB) reinstated the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of India, the Indian Olympic Association, during an ad-hoc meeting in Sochi today," read a statement from the IOC.

"The EB took this decision following a report about the IOA’s General Assembly and elections for a new Board, which were successfully held on 9 February 2014 and observed by an IOC delegation headed by IOC member Robin Mitchell," it added.

The decision comes after the IOC's three observers for the elections left Indian shores "satisfied with the IOA elections", promising to submit a "favourable report to the IOC president".

"It's great news for the Indian athletes," Randhir Singh, International Olympic Committee member from India, told Reuters.

"IOA has finally realised that the Olympic Charter is supreme and you have to fall in line and follow the principles of ethics and good governance. Tainted officials have no place in IOA."

The decision marks the first time the suspension of a National Olympic Committee has been lifted during an Olympic Games, and will have an immediate impact.

Indian athletes entered the Sochi Games under the Olympic flag during the opening ceremony on February 7, and have competed as Independent Olympic Participants.

The IOC's decision means they can now compete for India and will walk behind their national flag at the closing ceremony on February 23.

To symbolically mark the lifting of the suspension and, in recognition of the three Indian athletes competing in Sochi, the Indian flag will be raised in the Olympic Village.

"I'm happy with the new IOA team. (In N. Ramachandran and Anil Khanna) you have two world class administrators," Singh added.

Newly-elected IOA secretary-general Mehta said, the news is a great start for the new team.

"I got a call from the IOC this morning confirming the ban has been lifted and I'm now waiting for a written communication. It's a great start for the new team at the IOA.

"This is all the more significant as this year we have the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

"Indian athletes will be competing once again under the Indian flag. It's a great relief for us."