New Delhi: The International Olympic Committee has warned India of potential sanctions over government interference in the running of national sports federations.
The IOC said autonomy is the fundamental principle in the Olympic Charter and any external interference could result in India’s exclusion from international sports events.
Sports minister M.S. Gill said he has the backing of all political parties for proposed new regulations which would limit the tenure of administrators in national sports federations (NSFs) to 12 years.
The proposal has been strongly opposed by leading sports officials including Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi, who has been in his position since 1996 and would be forced to retire after his current term if the new rules are enacted.
The IOC in a 3 May letter to its Indian member Randhir Singh said the new rules “might regrettably expose the NOC (national Olympic committee) and the Olympic Movement in India to the protective measures and potential sanctions provided in the Olympic Charter.”
As well as restricting chiefs of various sports federations to terms no longer than 12 years _ with or without a break the proposed Indian law would limit secretaries and treasurers to eight years, but they would have to take a four-year gap before going for re-election.
The IOC said national Olympic committees’ internal operations, decision-making mechanisms, holding of meetings and election arrangements come under the exclusive remit of the NOC, in accordance with its statues and the Olympic Charter.
“The same principle also applies to the NSFs.”
Kalmadi and other NSF officials met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
“The PM told us that he will look into the matter and get back to us,” Kalmadi said.
“If you fiddle with the autonomy, you get into trouble. If IOC imposes sanctions it can bring to a standstill all sports activity in the country.”
Kalmadi said tenure limits should not have been proposed until after India hosted the Commonwealth Games in October.
“The timing (of the sports ministry’s move) was not good,” he said.
Along with Kalmadi, the chiefs of Indian archery, cycling, badminton, aero club, volleyball and judo federations would have to go if the new ruling is imposed.
Archery federation president V.K. Malhotra told reporters there would be no change before October.
“The status quo remains till the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
The sports ministry said that the new ruling will come into force when the new elections of various NSFs and IOA are held.