Code Red: Indian Olympic Association and Sports Ministry at loggerheads

Proposed sports code regarding limits on age and tenure have IOA and federations up in arms against ministry.

Published: 09th October 2019 11:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th October 2019 06:27 PM   |  A+A-

Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra

Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Indian Olympic Association and the National Sports Federation are set to have a heated discussion on Friday with the sports ministry on some contentious issues listed in the 2017 draft national code for good governance. The way things are now, the IOA and almost all the federations are going to oppose these changes. The issue has also forced some members into an emergency huddle in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss the way forward.

The meeting, which will have IOA’s top officials including secretary general Rajeev Mehta in attendance, will consist of a few broad-ranging topics — political patronage in National Sports Federations (NSFs); clauses with respect to age/tenure of office bearers and appointment of CEO and ombudsman besides others.

According to the existing provision, there is no entry barrier. But the proposed code says anybody who holds a government office will not be allowed to even be affiliated with an NSF. This clause will be ‘discussed in detail,’ according to Mehta. IOA feels that all NSFs need political patronage because it’s a source of fundings and the federations need them to function.

If this clause is passed as it as, administrators like All India Football Federation (AIFF) boss Praful Patel (a Rajya Sabha MP), Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh (wrestling federation chief), a BJP MP are just a few likely to be affected.  

Mehta was even more intimate when talking about age and tenure clauses. “If that is passed, then all the federations will exist only in name but there will be people serving the federations. Even with age, 70 is fine for office bearers but there are others with valuable experience and the federations cannot afford to lose them as they all contribute in a positive manner.”

He was even more critical of the clause restricting tenure. "Nobody will want to be in the executive council anymore. People will straight away want to be president or secretary because of the new clause," he said.   

Work of bureaucrats: IOA treasurer Anandeshwar Panday​

IOA treasurer Anandeshwar Panday, in fact, has already written a letter to the sports minister, Kiren Rijiju about it. “Neither the central government nor its state counterparts have ever helped in the management of sports in the country. Sports associations are doing this with the help of social workers, industrialists, leaders, and players. This important aspect of sports management is missing from the draft,” reads the letter, a copy of which is with this newspaper.

Panday also raised objections on the definition of an eminent sportsperson. "As per the draft, eminent sportsperson is the one, who has won medals in national championships or participated in any international tournament. Most of them are working with various government departments and cannot accept any post in any sports federations without the approval of their departments concerned. Even if they are allowed by their respective departments, they have to relinquish posts after four years. I request you to organise a workshop on the issue and take a final decision only after consulting all the stakeholders," the letter said.

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