Indian Olympic Association logo. (Photo | olympic.ind)
Indian Olympic Association logo. (Photo | olympic.ind)

Track queen Usha to head IOA, ball now in athletes’ court

At first glance, the nominations for the IOA Executive Committee (EC) elections throw up two interesting facts.

At first glance, the nominations for the IOA Executive Committee (EC) elections throw up two interesting facts. There is none from the previous executive committee, and sportspersons comprise nearly half the EC. Athletics legend P T Usha is set to be the IOA president after the election process ends on December 10. Six other sportspersons are on the 15-member panel. They are London Olympic medallist shooter Gagan Narang (vice president), All India Football Federation chief Kalyan Chaubey (joint secretary), two Sportspersons of Merit, London Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt and archer Dola Banerjee, and two Athletes’ Representatives—London Olympic medallist M C Mary Kom and Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist paddler Sharath Kamal.

No matter who else is on the panel, the athletes and their administrative acumen will always be under scrutiny. If the amended constitution wanted to cleanse the IOA, it did have its effect. It managed to keep away all members above 70 years of age and did not allow some bigwigs, who had been part of the IOA for decades in some form or the other, to enter the EC and wrest control. Going by the list, it’s pretty evident that no faction, including the one backed by secretary general Rajeev Mehta, found a place in the new EC. As a result, sportspersons will have more say in the day-to-day functioning of the IOA.

Like they say, with power comes great responsibility. Not just the sports fraternity but the entire nation will closely follow every move our sports icons make. The IOA is the umbrella organisation of all sports, particularly those part of the Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Games. It has a huge responsibility in supporting athletes and promoting sports too. The IOA Usha will inherit is a fissured and highly politicised body. There are multiple factions and a host of litigations, while the 2024 Paris Olympics is barely one-and-a-half years away.

There are indications that the government and the sports ministry could play an active role, but the onus will be on Usha and company to keep the noisy house in order. The NSFs and old IOA members will not sit quiet, nor will the disgruntled state units, whose voting rights were snatched away. It’s up to Usha and her team to overcome all odds like they did many times in their career and bring sanity to the IOA.

The New Indian Express