Sports Ministry hits back at IOC

The Sport Ministry on Friday hit back at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for trying to blackmail it and prevent it from bringing transparency in Indian sports.

New Delhi: The Sport Ministry on Friday hit back
at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for trying to
blackmail it and prevent it from bringing transparency in
Indian sports.

The IOC earlier, in its letter to Sports Ministry had
warned it against enforcing the age and tenure limitation
guidelines on India`s National Sports Federations, saying such
a move would jeopardise the country`s participation in
international events including the Olympics.

Taking exception to the letter, the ministry today said
that it will not succumb to such pressures from the IOC.

"We will not succumb to such pressure. It is nothing but
a kind of blackmail. Our intentions are to bring about
transparency in Indian sports and we want to go ahead with
it," ministry sources said.

The letter was addressed to the new sports minister Ajay
Maken, who has proposed a sports bill in the Parliament which
fixes tenures and age for NSF heads. Where the IOC had said
while it does not intend to interfere, it would still keep an
eye on the contents of the bill.

"We have been informed that your Ministry has proposed a
preliminary draft of new sports legislation in India. It is,
of course, not the intention of the IOC to interfere directly
in this process, and we fully understand and respect the fact
that such process is under the jurisdiction of the relevant
Government authorities in India," the letter had stated.

"Nevertheless, it is our understanding that the
organisations of the Olympic Movement in India (in particular
the NOC and National Federations) would be directly impacted
and affected by this new sports legislation.”

"...the autonomy and the jurisdiction of each entity
shall be mutually respected whilst ensuring the best possible
cooperation with the Government authorities, as partners," it

The IOC said the ministry should not interfere in the
election process of the NSFs by enforcing any criteria.

"By way of example, we fully understand that if the
national sports organisations receive public funds, they must,
logically and legitimately, be accountable for the use of such
specific funds to the public authorities concerned.”

"This must not, however, be used by the Government
authorities to justify interference in the internal operation
of these organisations or to treat them as public authorities
(which they are not)," the IOC said.

"It should rather contribute, complementarily and
jointly, to the development of these organisations and thus
sporting activity as a whole.”

"Consequently, the internal operations (including the
composition of the bodies, decision-making mechanisms, holding
of meetings, election process, age limit (if any), number of
terms for the elected office-bearers, mechanisms for resolving
disputes, etc.) of the national sports organisations shall
come under the exclusive jurisdiction of these respective
sports organisations," it added.

"In that field, the Government authorities may suggest
but shall not force the national sports organisations to adopt
specific criteria. Otherwise, this would be contrary to the
principle of autonomy of these sports organisations in their
internal operations," the letter said.

The IOC said whether the new guidelines can be adhered to
or not should be left to NSFs.

"Once again, the IOC does not say whether the criteria
mentioned in the new draft sports legislation are appropriate
or not but says only that the national sports organizations,
as autonomous legal entities - should be able to decide by
themselves whether they shall adopt such criteria or not," it

"Hence, these criteria might be proposed or suggested by
the Government, but should not, however, be imposed.”

"...thus avoid any breach of the principle of autonomy
and incompatibilities with the rules of the Olympic Movement
and the international sports organisations to which the
national sports organisations in India are affiliated and
which allow the representation of India on the international
sports scene.”

"If not, India`s representation and participation in
upcoming international sports events (in particular for
qualification to and participation in the Olympic Games) might
be threatened and subject to measures taken by the
international sports organisations, and we would be obliged to
present this case again at the next IOC Executive Board
meeting, which will take place on 5 and 6 April 2011 in
London," it added.