The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) rejected the Draft National Sports Code 2017, warning that the country will attract the wrath of the International Olympic Committee and might even be suspended if it proceeds with administrative reforms enshrined in the document.
The IOA also expressed its surprise with the government’s step to seek a response on the draft after the Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju’s announcement on 11 October for the formation of a committee to have a look at the contentious provisions like age and tenure cap on officials that National Sports Federations has been opposing.
However, despite Rijiju’s announcement, the ministry, through its Director (Sports), forwarded a letter to the IOA on 24th October to send feedback on the 2017 Draft National Sports Code as early as 10 November.
Rajeev Mehta, IOA Secretary-General, in turn, promptly sent a note that rejected the changes proposed.
“Draft interferes with the autonomy of IOA”
“We, the IOA and all our members, outrightly reject the new Draft Sports Code as it interferes in the autonomy of the IOA and its members. The Sports Code was discussed with GOI MYAS and implemented in 2014 in IOA Statutes which enabled IOA to regain its recognition in 2012,” Mehta expressed to the ministry in the feedback letter sent.
“Any further interference in IOA Autonomy will also be taken seriously by IOC and OCA and can once again lead to suspension of membership IOA. We certainly hope that it is not the intention of the Sports Ministry to send Indian contingent to Tokyo in 2020 Olympics under IOC Flag and not the Indian Flag.”
The IOC had suspended IOA back in December 2012 for government interference before being reinstated 14 months later only after assurances on autonomy.
Mehta also expressed his surprise at the ministry’s insistence on furnishing feedback on the Draft Sports Code. “We are willing to work together by forming a small committee to take it forward as was agreed on 11.10.2019 and we sincerely hope that MYAS will also stand by what was conveyed to IOA & NSF’s in the 11th October 2019 meeting,” he wrote.