IOC acts tough, India's Olympic ban to continue

New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) India's Olympic ban will continue as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected the request of the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to allow charge-sheeted officials to continue in and run for office.

The IOC executive board met Wednesday in Buenos Aires and decided that the ban on IOA will continue if the apex body for sports in India does not change its constitution to keep out charge-sheeted individuals.

"The Executive Board heard a report that the IOA's General Assembly had approved most of the amendments to the IOA's constitution requested by the IOC, but one specific clause had not been adopted. This clause, which deals specifically with the eligibility of members, is key to the good governance of the NOC and needs to be fully accepted before the suspended IOA can proceed with the elections. An official notification of the IOC's position will be sent to the IOA," the IOC said in a statement.

The IOC is expected to send a notification to the IOA soon on the matter to discuss the deadlock.

Since the suspension of the IOA in December 2012, the IOC has been working towards finding a solution to improve good governance within the IOA.

The IOC also provided the IOA with a roadmap and sent observers to the IOA's General Assembly (GA) that took place here Aug 25.

The IOC's decision has triggered a widespread outcry in India.

Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the president of the recognised IOA, Thursday regretted the IOC's decision not to revoke its suspension of India but promised his best efforts to ensure the country's return to the Olympic movement.

"The continuance of the ban is definitely detrimental to Indian sports and prestige. I am quite unhappy that India is out of the Olympic movement at the moment," said Malhotra in a statement.

The veteran sports administrator requested all the stake holders in the suspended IOA to stand united and find out a way to lift the ban.

"We have to follow the IOC charter. The only thing is they can have more clarifications here and there. Definitely, I am also of the opinion that people facing criminal and corruption charges shouldn't contest the election. But we need to see to what stage it can be made applicable," Malhotra said.

Sports Minister Jitendra Singh asserted that the IOA should toe the line of the IOC which bars chargesheeted officials from continuing to hold and run for office.

"There are certains clauses with which IOC has a problem. The main issue is of ethics and good governance. So, I hope better sense prevails and the IOA incorporates the changes which the IOC has suggested," Jitendrra Singh told a TV channel.

"I don't think there should be a problem in incorporating these changes as it is a part of the Olympic Charter. It is nothing new that the IOC is saying."

Double Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar also felt that IOA should accept the terms and conditions of the IOC to pave the way for India's return to the fold.

The 30-year-old grappler said charge-sheeted officials should stay away from the administration of Indian sports and the IOA for the sake of Indian athletes.

"The IOA should accept all the terms and conditions set down by the IOC for the sake of Indian athletes. When the whole world is accepting the IOC Charter, why shouldn't we? What is the harm in keeping out charge-sheeted individuals?" said Sushil, who won a bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012.

"Wherever we go to play, we represent India. It is a matter of pride for us. The Indian flag matters a lot to us. But now even it has been taken away from us. We cannot play under the national flag nor the anthem will be played if we win any medal," Sushil said.

The IOA, during its Special General Meeting here, refused to incorporate the contentious IOC-proposed clause that would have barred charge-sheeted individuals from holding any post and suggested an alternative that would affect only convicted officials.

India was banned from the Olympics in December 2012 over the IOA's election process. Since then, the country's athletes have been barred from competing in international meets under the Indian flag.

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