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IOC and Asian council extend support to IOA


New Delhi: Flaunting the letters of unequivocal support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Randhir Singh Tuesday said it is none of government’s business to limit the number of terms for office-bearers of national sports federations or their retirement age.

Releasing the letters at a news conference here Tuesday, Randhir Singh said the Olympic Charter is clear that if any changes in the tenure of officials have to be made, it is for the IOA to do so, not the government.

The IOC’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) relations director Pere Miro, in a letter to Randhir, dropped a hint that the apex body of international sport will not hesitate to impose sanctions on its Indian affiliate if there is too much government interference as it is closely monitoring the situation.

Randhir, who is also an IOC member, said the letter has been forwarded to Sports Minister M.S. Gill so that the government relents and changes its order.

In the letter, Miro said: “The Olympic Movement always recognises the fundamental role of the government authorities in the development and promotion of sport at national level. This is a fundamental principle enshrined in the Olympic Charter, but such cooperation must take place with the absolute and mutual respect for the autonomy of these organisations and respect for their respective power, prerogatives and remits.”

On the sports ministry’s latest order limiting the tenure and retirement age of office-bearers of the IOA and other national sports federations, Miro said: “The number of terms of office-bearers and a potential age limit for the members of NOC or sports federations shall not be decided or imposed by law or external body’s decision, but shall be decided by the respective organisation, on a case by case basis.”

Miro also said that the Olympic Charter does not impose any limitations on the members of an NOC with respect to the numbers of terms the NOC office-bearers may exercise or the potential age limit.

“We hope that these clarifications will help ensuring that the autonomy of the Olympic and sports movement in India is respected with the view to develop a mutual understanding with the government,” Miro said.

Randhir, who is also an IOC member and the secretary general of Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), said that India is staring at sanctions by the IOC and the Asian council if the government does not stop interfering in the operations of the IOA and the national sports federations (NSFs).

“The sports ministry must respect the autonomy of sports bodies. The directive violates the IOA charter. If the government doesn’t respect our autonomy, we will be banned from all international events,” he said.

“We are not scared of anyone, but we are keen to work with the government. If any change has to be made, it should be done by the General Assembly of the IOA,” he said.