Former Sports Minister criticises IOC on IOA elections

New Delhi: Former Sports Minister M S Gill on Sunday lambasted the International Olympic Committee for threatening to suspend India and said the country should not be "frightened of paper tigers" who are rejecting electoral reforms in the IOA despite following them in their own case.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections that are scheduled next month are embroiled in controversy and the IOC is threatening to suspend India if government guidelines on age and tenure limitation are implemented.

The IOC says the IOA elected should be conducted minus any government interference.

Gill, however, rejected the IOC`s stand, saying it smacks of "sports imperialism".

"There has been a continuing malady in Indian sports management, which everyone is conscious of. Heavy political presence, unlimited continuous tenure from 20 years to 40 years, invariably without any sports background," he said in a statement.

Gill recalled how efforts by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to bring in reforms in the sports governance were scuttled.

"The IOA people led by their then Chairman, all pressed the fear of the IOC action in their defense, and suggested to the PM not to do anything.

"Rajiv Gandhi rejected their threat and said let the IOC ban us. We will use money spent on all of you for coaching of young sports persons. I have this knowledge from the then Union Sports Minister, who especially telephoned me to tell me and urge me to carry out the reforms. I dug out the minutes of 1987 meeting," he claimed.

Gill said putting a cap on age and tenure of IOA office-bearers is an idea lifted from the IOC only.

"I limited the president`s tenure to 12 years and executive members` tenure to 8 years. These, in fact, I copied from the IOC`s own regulations," he said.

"I aligned India to the IOC`s own regulations, and issued an order immediately applicable to IOA and all federations. (But) the IOA`s then President and then Secretary General, played the same old game, went to IOC HQs in Lausanne, and encouraged them to attack India`s patently good policy decision, which was the same as their own," he added.

"The IOC started raising objections to me, saying we should not do it, and in fact, we should also stop the High Court. How can this be possible? We have to obey the Constitution and the law. What was good practice for the IOC was being sought to be blocked in India."

Gill attacked the IOC for trying to intimidate India.

"They (the IOC) do not like to annoy their voters in any manner. I also see that there is clear sports imperialism of the west in all games. The control over each game, is essentially with the western world. Political imperialism has gone but not sports imperialism," he said.

"The IOC`s current pressure is part of the same old game, and I see an Indian hand behind it, as in my time. I hope the Indian authorities will not cave in on spurious arguments. For myself, I say this: don`t be frightened, they are paper tigers," he concluded.


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