IOA wants change; IOC says constitution fit for purpose

The IOC had a meeting with the IOA executive council on Saturday and reminded them to appoint the CEO and have agreed to give them 30 days' time.
For representational purpose . (Photo | AP)
For representational purpose . (Photo | AP)

CHENNAI : After the euphoria of India’s bid for the 2036 Olympics, and the addition of cricket and squash to the Olympic programme in LA28, the focus is now on the Indian Olympic Association’s issue that has been plaguing them since January this year – the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer. The IOA had somehow been too adamant to not appoint a CEO despite repeated warnings by the IOC this has not gone down well with the world's top sports body. Even the sports ministry had an informal meeting on Tuesday on this.

The IOC had a meeting with the IOA executive council on Saturday and reminded them to appoint the CEO and have agreed to give them 30 days' time. However, the IOA is still divided even now. President of the IOA PT Usha had been insisting on appointing a CEO but a section of her EC has not been too cooperating. Kalyan Chaubey who is also the joint secretary, was appointed the acting CEO. And according to the new constitution, he cannot continue beyond 60 days. What seems baffling is that even now the IOA is not on one page on this issue. The matter apparently has reached the Prime Minister’s Office, especially after the bidding announcement.

As reported by this newspaper multiple times, the IOC has not accepted India’s excuse that the matter is sub-judiced in court and hence the delay. Because of the sweeping powers vested on the CEO, a section of the IOA is not comfortable and wants the constitution changed.  However, the IOC, who had given some suggestions in June, is not in the mood of giving any more relaxations. James MacLeod, Director of Olympic Solidarity, NOC Relations and Olympism365, said the IOC had already given them suggestions but the IOA has not taken them.

“We have already discussed changing the constitution and we have given some options to them but that did not happen so now we told them that we need to advance on this and we don’t want to hold the matter long because of the change in the constitution,” said MacLeod on the sidelines of the IOC Session. “We believe the constitution is fit for purpose. But again every constitution has to be fit for purpose and the area and the country it operates. We have no problem if the constitution or statutes is changed to fit the local context. In this case, we should move forward. We are not going to change the constitution each time rather than appoint a CEO and move forward.” The IOC also said that their point of contact in India is Usha and not the acting CEO.

“For us CEO is not a political position but it is a position to organize. It’s a position to administrate and manage sport. There will be a board and the general assembly. The board has a more political role and the CEO would one who would be reporting the executive board,” he said. What seems even more intriguing is that the IOA had apparently submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court in early May after the IOC (based on this newspaper report) had asked them to not conduct a special general body meeting on May 5 to change the constitution.

The IOA wanted changes in the process of appointing a CEO. According to the new constitution, “The CEO shall be proposed by a nomination committee comprising of the President (Usha), chairperson of the Athletes Commission (Mary Kom) and one IOC member from India (Nita Ambani).” However, the proposal suggests that the CEO shall be proposed by a nomination committee constituted by the Executive Council for the said purpose. Not just that the IOA also wants to tinker with the qualification criteria.

As of now “the CEO must be a person who is a management professional with management experience of at least 10 (ten) years as the CEO of a company/entity with a turnover of at least rupees 25 crores.” The proposed change is that the EC can change the qualification criteria as and when necessary. The matter is expected to be heard on Friday, and all eyes will be on what the Supreme Court says. The IOC said that they should not be changing the constitution anymore especially after their suggestions were ignored. And in case of a change in the constitution, a general assembly needs to be called for amending the statutes. 

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