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Hope IOC assists India to return to Olympic fold: Jitendra

Source: PTI
May 15, 2013 19:10 IST
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Sports Minister Jitendra Singh asked the International Olympic Committee to "assist" in bringing India back into the Olympic fold and said that the country is at "crossroads" as far as sports administration was concerned.

"We are at the crossroads of change in the way India Sports is administered in India. We come to you with a common understanding. We hope the IOC will also assist us in bringing about the changes and when we do, allow Indian sportspersons to compete under the Indian Flag," Jitendra said during his speech at the International Olympic Committee Headquarters in Lausanne.

Jitendra re-iterated that the Government of India respects the autonomy of the Indian Olympic Association and National Sports Federations.

"The Government of India respects the autonomy of the IOA and the NSF. There has been no case where the Government has intervened in the day to day functioning of the NSF. Even when there is a dispute within the NSF, the Govt. of India prefers to respect the views of the International Federation rather than impose its will," he told the IOC members.

The minister also sought to explain the Sports Code.

India"It is a set of guidelines that the Government has come out with and expects the IOA and the NSF to voluntarily adopt. A federation does not have to follow the Sports Code by the letter. In many cases, where the situation demands, the Government has relaxed the provisions of the Code."

Citing examples, Jitendra said the "Soccer, Tennis, Yachting, Golf federations had come to us, discussed the issues and solutions have been found".

Jitendra emphasised on the role of judiciary in the functioning of the NSFs.

"Over the years the judiciary has repeatedly expressed its dismay at the state of affairs in many National Sports Federations. Because of the absence of any clear guiding principles of governance among the NSF, the judiciary has repeatedly taken recourse to the Sports Code and has insisted on the NSF adhering to its principles. Such directions are binding on the concerned NSF," he explained.

"That is what happened in the case of the IOA. It was not the Government but the Judiciary who asked for adherence to the Sports Code. It was the binding order of the court that became applicable. There was nothing wrong with the order of the Court," Jitendra said.

"All it directed was that the elections should be held as per the constitution of the IOA, with the provisions of the Sports Code also being made applicable. There was no conflict in the provisions."

He further told the IOC members that the government only wanted the NSFs to have transparency and accountability.

"Between 40 percent and 90 percent of the expenditures of NSF and the

IOA is met from Government Funds. All that the Government seeks in return is the enforcement of common transparent guidelines which emphasises transparency, good governance and accountability."

Jitendra once again also said that as many as 53 NSFs out of 54 have agreed to fall in line with the Sports Code.

"As a matter of fact, there is almost complete acceptance of the Sports Code among the NSF in India. The Government of India deals with 54 NSF. 53 of them have voluntarily accepted the Sports Code. The only exception is the Archery Federation of India, led by Mr. Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who has refused to join these discussions.

"The 34 of the NSF have amended their constitutions the rest, except archery, have promised to do so by June 30, 2013. There is now no dispute regarding the Sports Code," he stressed.

Stating that even the IOA is no longer averse to the age and tenure restrictions of the Sports Code, Jitendra said, "We have all come here today with a common agreement. The IOA constituents have agreed to amend the constitution of the IOA to incorporate some age and tenure restrictions. These restrictions are exactly those that are in the IOC constitution.

"Once the amendments are carried through, and I have no doubt that they will be; the directives of the High Court will no longer be needed, as they will have voluntarily been accepted by the members of the IOA."

Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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