POA-PSB row may jeopardise Pakistan`s Olympic participation

Lahore: The head of the Pakistan national Olympic association has said that ill-planned policies of the government sports authorities could well lead to the isolation of the country from the international sports arena.

Lt General (retd) Arif Hasan also cautioned that nothing could be said about Pakistan`s participation in the London Olympics until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive committee meeting on July 20 and 21.

"The dispute between the POA and the Pakistan Sports Board will be discussed at the IOC meeting as the Olympic charter does not allow undue government interference in the working of its national sports federations," Hasan said.

"Honestly speaking at this stage, I cannot comment on Pakistan`s participation in London Olympics. This matter will be taken during the IOC meeting," he added.

Pakistan has already sent its Hockey team, which is its only realistic hope of winning a medal, to London while it is also sending five other athletes including two females in three other events, athletics, swimming and shooting all of whom are wild card entries.

Liaquat Ali and Rabia Ashiq will take part in athletics, Israr Hussain and Anum Bandey in swimming and Khurrum Inam in skeet shooting.

The dispute between the POA and the state controlled PSB has taken a serious turn after the latter announced that it is firm in implementing the Supreme Court verdict relating to National Sports Policy 2005 which bars sports officials from holding the office for a third consecutive term.

The IOC has called representatives from both parties at next week`s meeting.

Hasan said the POA stance is clear that according to the IOC charter, the government cannot frame or amend rules to govern the constitutions of national federations affiliated to the POA.

A statement from the POA also said: "The POA has always pleaded before the governmental sports authorities to adhere to the rules and regulations in accordance with the Olympic Charter.

"Some of the rules formed by PSB and provisions of the Nation Sports policy are not in consonance with the Olympic Charter, which if not corrected immediately may result in unfortunate isolation of Pakistan sports from international sports arena."

But the PSB also made its intentions clear today when a report in the "Dawn" newspaper quoted a senior government official as saying that there was no danger to Pakistan`s participation in the London Olympics.

The government finally made public the documents it had sent to the IOC regarding its real stance on the dispute.

The documents also indicated that the IOC has neither warned nor threatened Pakistan at any stage with suspension of the country`s Olympic membership.

In its stance, a senior government functionary, joint secretary Abdul Ghaffar Khan, noted before the IOC: "The sports bodies use public funds, government`s grants, and enjoy benefits like tax and duty exemptions; they are subject to rules and regulations enforced to ensure transparency, accountability and judicious use of the taxpayers` money."

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has also endorsed the right of the Federal government to enact laws and devise the sports policy. It has also held the laws and policies are applicable to sports bodies affiliated with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).


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