Tarlochan Singh, a Vice-President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), told a TV channel that since India’s elected Ministers don’t have to step down until they have been convicted of a crime, so India’s sports officials should not be held to a higher standard. Given a chance to take the high road, the IOA once again preferred to take the low road…
Every time it seems Indian sport is about to take a leap forward, its administrators remind us why the country languishes as a sporting nation. Firstpost broke the news that the Indian badminton team was sent home from the Asian Youth Games because the Badminton Association forgot to send in their entries before the deadline. It seems the association was caught up in making sure the big-money Indian Badminton League got off the ground and the youth team was collateral damage. The team flew all the way to China just to turn around and fly all the way back.
Barely a week after PV Sindhu won the country’s first ever medal at the World Championships, the unwitting message that has gone out to the kids is simple: Money matters but the next generation does not. As it is, India is participating in the Asian Youth Games under the Olympic flag as the country is suspended by the International Olympic Committee. And there lies another tale.
The International Olympic Association wants any National Olympic Association official who has been charged with a criminal offense to be suspended for the duration of his or her trial. This applies to all countries, not just India. Given that one of the reasons the Indian Olympic Association was suspended was because it elected Lalit Bhanot as its secretary despite Bhanot being indicted in the Commonwealth Games corruption case, you would have expected the IOA to have no objections to this clause.
After all India’s athletes are being denied from competing under their country’s flag because the officials have fallen foul of the Olympic Committee. So it would be in the officials’ interests to redeem themselves and get the suspension lifted as soon as possible so the men and women who actually represent the country can actually represent India. But of course, the administrators don’t care about all that. They care mostly about making sure they remain in control and so they have objected to the clause. They want Indian law to decide the matter, not the IOC. Tarlochan Singh, a vice-president of the IOA, told ‘Times Now’ that since India’s elected Ministers don’t have to step down until they have been convicted of a crime, so India’s sports officials should not be held to a higher standard. Given a chance to take the high road, the IOA once again preferred to take the low road.
These are the same Ministers who have not only collectively opposed the RTI act applying to political parties but also the Supreme Court’s decision that convicted Ministers should lose their seats in Parliament. Perhaps that will be next on the IOA’s agenda – even those convicted of crimes should be eligible for office until they run out of appeals? The larger irony here is that the IOA is using the Indian Government to oppose the IOC. But the reason they opposed India’s proposed Sports Bill in the first place was because the age and tenure of the Bill conflicted with the IOC’s Constitution.
In other words, the strategy seems to be when you don’t like something the Government does, blame the IOC for not following it. And when you don’t like something the IOC does, blame the Government for not following it. Fortunately for Indian sports, the IOC is standing firm for now and has reminded the IOA that they are a suspended association and should behave responsibly if they want to be reinstated. The association’s attitude has not been missed by the athletes either. “Sportsmen have never been their priority, Ashwini Nachappa, former star athlete, told ‘Times Now’. “They [the officials] don’t want to create a transparent system. It is going to be a fight.” For the sake of India’s sports men and women, let it be a fight the IOA will lose.