Irked ministry to adopt zero tolerance policy to deal with IOA case

IOA has done nothing in the case of Abhay Chautala, who said his matter was up to International Olympic Council to decide.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel (File|PTI)
Sports Minister Vijay Goel (File|PTI)

After Indian Olympic Association’s comments about its autonomy and ‘unnecessary interference’ by the government, there’s been quite a sharp reaction by the sports ministry. If the whispers within the power corridors of Shastri Bhawan are to be believed, the ministry is taking things very seriously this time and is not willing to let it pass as just another roar-but-no-bite episode. 

What has peeved them the most is the way IOA has behaved after they elevated Commonwealth Games scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi and former IOA president Abhay Singh Chautala.

Though Kalmadi has resigned on his own, IOA has done nothing in the case of Chautala, who said it was up to International Olympic Council to decide. IOA president in a statement on Saturday too said, “The IOA is a body that has to function under the guidance and supervision of OCA and IOC.”

This will further complicate matters between IOA and the ministry. He also said the matter will be discussed with IOC before taking a final decision.

IOA once again is taking refuge under the autonomy and ‘non-interference by government’ argument. But the government’s argument is that they are not interfering and are just trying to follow what the courts of the country have been saying. “It is a question of ethics and good governance and this time we will not tolerate IOA’s attitude,” said a top official.

“If IOC can force Chautala to resign on this ground, why should they now agree with IOA?”  

The ministry believes that if it has to fund National Games and other international Games (Asian, Commonwealth or South Asian) they can intervene if something wrong is happening in IOA. It believes that if it withdraws support, these events will be jeopardised. 

If top ministry officials are to be believed this time, they will be very strict while dealing with IOA. They feel it’s within their rights to de-recognise IOA.

Their argument is if the High Court and the Supreme Court say IOA is a public body discharging public function, they are answerable to the public. The Indian Cricket Board too has been classified as a public body. In that regard, the government is well within their rights to question them, but only if necessary. Interference is when the ministry pokes their nose in their day-to-day affairs, not when it is trying to talk about ‘ethics and good governance’.

The issue, apparently will get resolved within January. The officials have already begun discussions. 
Chautala, who according to an IOA insider has made it an ego issue, will play a crucial role. He has said he would abide by IOC’s decision and the IOA president too echoed his words by saying he would consult Olympic Council of Asia and IOC before taking a decision. 

Hopefully, the new year will bring sanity in IOA.

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