CHENNAI: No matter who is in power, there will be challenges. The elections are over. The hype and hoopla associated with it too have faded into the folds of history. The excitement generated when Olympian and multiple Asian Games medallist PT Usha was elected as the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), with a handful of Olympians and international athletes part of the Executive Committee, is giving way to more serious affairs.
The newly-elected Executive Council is set to meet on December 26 and all eyes will be on them as IOA ushers in a new phase in its administration. While almost all members are expected to attend, considering some of the athletes are new to administration, it needs to be seen how the ship will be steered.
Challenges will not be less because there is a change in regime. Transparency and accountability are two pillars that needed to be polished and re-erected, especially after a torrid two-three years when two factions, one led by the former president and the other by its secretary general, had a bitter power struggle. The accounts of the IOA need to be settled, and going by the records available on its website, 2018-2019 was the last financial year that was audited. There are more than 50 litigations pending in various courts and if sources are to be believed, the fees of lawyers have run into crores.
The appointment of the Chief Executive Officer/secretary general too could be one of the points that could be discussed. According to the IOA constitution, the CEO/secretary general needs to be appointed within one month. "The IOA’s Executive Council shall appoint a Secretary General/CEO within 1 (one) month from the time such a position is vacated or is lying vacant due to any reason," says the constitution.
Like some points, whether the CEO should be appointed within one month, we don't know. The elections of IOA were over on December 10. Though there are indications that the IOA is not in a hurry, the application process needs to start as soon as possible.
The IOA is a strange place that usually gets active every two years before sending athletes to the Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games. The National Games is another occasion when it gets active. The next Games are slated in Goa and needs to be seen how it will be organised next year. Whether IOA will have a bigger role than it had during the Gujarat Games this year.
The meeting is expected to fix the roles and responsibilities of the members. There is expected to be a spokesperson or two for the IOA.
During the interaction after the IOA elections, most of the queries were parried by All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey, the joint secretary, and London Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang after the opening statement by president Usha.
The IOA had already announced that Gagan and Chaubey will be going to Paris as part of a delegation to conduct joint recce there for the 2024 Olympics. It is interesting because there is a Games Village where all athletes who qualify are accommodated along with an allocated quota of support staff.
According to a statement from the IOA, the team, which will also have officials from the sports ministry, will work on identifying the requirements of athletes to prepare for the Paris Olympics. It needs to be seen if this will be in addition to the plans National Sports Federations submit during its Annual Calendar for Training and Competition or the ones Target Olympic Podium Schemes provide athletes or the Mission Olympic Cell is doing along with the sports ministry and Sports Authority of India.
Perhaps, it will be prudent to focus on initiating sports development projects that would help the grassroots through training and orientation programmes. It can do a lot in organising symposiums on anti-doping. The IOA has been generating funds but it needs to be seen if the current dispensation, with top sportspersons in the mix, will be able to overhaul and turn it into a more professional unit with sports development as its goal.
PT Usha (President), Ajay Patel (Sr Vice President), Rajlaxmi Singh Deo (Vice President), Gagan Narang (VP), Sahdev Yadav (treasurer), Kalyan Chaubey (Jt secretary), Alaknanda Ashok (Jt Secy), Executive committee members: Amitabh Sharma, Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Rohit Rajpal, Dola Banerjee, Yogeshwar Dutt, MC Mary Kom, Sharath Kamal