IOA Needs To Be Practical

By RAMU SHARMA
The continued confrontation between the Government and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) needs to be ended. In the ensuing tug-of-war neither side can afford to lose though on sheer merit the IOA may find itself on slippery ground.

Right or wrong the two sides need each other, one because of its position as a tributary of the controlling body of sport in the world, the IOC, and other because of its sovereign status of representing a free, democratic republic. Whichever way one looks at it the weight is loaded in favour of the government body.

The IOA’s position is untenable merely because it had once agreed to the guidelines laid down by the government and in fact even followed them for a period before rejecting them altogether because of laxity on the part of the Centre. The objection raised by the IOA is on the old lines – the guidelines restricting the tenure of the main office-bearers are interference as it undermines its independence.

But what independence is the IOA talking about? It just cannot function without the government funding its activities and it cannot hold an international without government permission and assistance. The government on its side cannot run sports without the help of the IOA and its affiliates and nor can it take the place of the apex body without its cooperation. Both need each other.

Meanwhile, the IOC is also tending to be a little authoritarian and if somewhat a little illogical too. It has been running world sport all these years without batting an eyelid on the functioning of the respective Olympic Associations of most of the Eastern “bloc’ where there was never any question of independent working.

No Olympic Association dare go against the Governments in the erstwhile communist countries. And to this day there is no record of the IOC having taken any action against these countries.

Why is it now making a fuss about some small changes desired by the Sports Ministry in India. All that the Ministry is asking is to revert to the original guidelines with limits on the number of years officials can hold important positions in the sports hierarchy.

There is nothing wrong if the Ministry limits the tenure to twelve years in the IOA and eight years in the affiliated units and of course an age of 70. One can’t think of a saner proposal.

In fact one wishes if these limits were placed on our parliamentarians we can save the country from stagnation. The biblical age of two score and ten is more than enough for a man or a woman to serve the nation whether in sport or politics.

The IOA would do well to consider the MS Gill ruling and fall in line instead of placing itself in a position where it might end up a loser in a big way with nothing to fall back on. (Syndicate Features)

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