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POA warns its NSFs to stay away from political interference

Karachi: The Pakistan Olympic Association has warned that Pakistan like India could also be banned by the International Olympic Council (IOC) if political interference continued in the national sports federations.

POA President Lt General (retd) Arif Hasan told PTI on Tuesday that the IOC was concerned over the political influence and meddling in sports by government officals and politicians.

"I don`t want to sound pessimistic but the IOC has a clear charter for its member countries and at present we are perilously close to violating it and this could lead to a ban on Pakistan," he said.

The situation in Pakistan sports has aggravated in recent weeks with a long standing deadlock between the POA and the government controlled Pakistan Sports Board snowballing into the public after the PSB formed a ad-hoc committee to hold the national games again and also fresh elections of the national Olympic body.

The POA has held the national games in Lahore last month. Hasan said the PSB with the support of the the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) sports wing ? over the implementation of the National Sports Policy (NSP).

This policy bars any official from continuing in a position if they have already completed two four-year tenures.

However, the POA has maintained that it is an independent body and is by no means affected by the sports policy since it runs under the charter of the IOC. Hasan is in his third term as POA President.

He said the IOC had called a meeting of the POA on February 15 in Geneva.

"I`ll present the POA`s version on the entire matter during the IOC`s meeting. The IOC can ban Pakistan over matters of continuous political interference regarding sports, but if this does happen, there will be dire consequences," he said.

Recently, the IPC sports wing went ahead with the scheduled meeting of the PSB despite being given notices from the POA and the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

Hasan also said holding of the National games was prerogative of the POA not any body else.

"We will not allow the PSB to hold the games again. The PSB can hold any national event but not under the banner of the national games," he said.

The IOC had banned the Indian Olympic Association in early December after declaring there was government interference in a vote that could have led to a tainted official taking over as secretary-general.