Athletes' Commission elected amid withdrawals and drama

What was expected to be a new beginning for the IOA, ended in the same old story -- unanimous election.

Published: 14th November 2022 11:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th November 2022 11:58 PM   |  A+A-

Left to Right- Om Prakash , Bajrang Lal, Addl. Returning officer Tapas Bhattachariya, Returning Officer Umesh Sinha, Shlok Chandra, Shiva Keshavan, P.V Sindhu, Sharad Kamal, and Gagan Narang.

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The election for the Indian Olympic Association Athletes' Commission on Monday turned out to be an interesting one. The list of athletes sent by National Sports Federations who are part of the Olympic, Asian and Commonwealth Games programme contained 70 members and the list of contestants had 39 members -- 20 female and 19 male. The list was released by Returning Officer of the election Umesh Sinha, a former secretary general of the Election Commission.

What was expected to be a new beginning for the IOA, ended in the same old story -- unanimous election. And what seemed interesting was the number of candidates swelled to 42 from 39. And 32 withdrew their candidature. The first election under the new constitution was not without drama either. There were rumours of high-profile meetings before finalising the candidates.

The provisional list on Sunday did not have three names. Commonwealth Games medallist in table tennis Manika Batra, Pragnya Mohan (Indian Triathlon Federation) and Sandeep from Handball Federation of India. In the end, after so much scrutiny there was no election.

It is understood that the RO's team had missed the names while listing out on Sunday and realising it as an oversight, they added it in the morning. The RO's office explained that once the oversight was discovered, it was rectified and the three names added.

The notice issued by Sinha on Sunday said the provisional list had been released and the final list will be made on Monday. It also said that any anomalies or typographical errors may be brought to the notice of the RO. The time given for withdrawal was given at 8.30am but due to NSFs expressing the difficulties in filing their withdrawal letter in such a short notice, the time was extended to noon (12pm).

However, instead of election, 32 candidates withdrew and finally 10 were elected to the Athletes' Commission unopposed. Among them, as reported by this newspaper, are Olympic medallists Gagan Narang, PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, Mirabai Chanu, Asian Games medallists and Olympians A Sharath Kamal (table tennis), Rani Rampal (hockey), Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan, fencer Bhavani Devi, 2010 Asian Games gold medallist rower Bajrang Lal and Om Prakash Karhana (2012 Olympics, athletics).

Interestingly, the new contesting candidates' list seemed in a chronological order. The first 10 names were the ones who eventually were elected unanimously to the Athletes' Commission. Also, sports like rowing and fencing were considered ahead of wrestling that has fetched India multiple medallists at the Olympics and other world events. In fact, there were no names on the candidates' list, either.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) athletes commission member, Abhinav Bindra, and Olympic Council of India commission representative and former hockey captain, Sardar Singh, will be the other two ex-officio members. The Athletes' commission will not shortlist the eight Sportspersons of Outstanding Merit who will be part of the IOA's general assembly with voting rights.


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