IOA-IOC meeting fruitful, solution on logjam likely: sources

New Delhi, Sep 27 (PTI) The meeting between the Indian officials and their counterparts at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, went off well on Tuesday as a resolution on amendment of IOA constitution in order to hold its elections before December could be achieved, according to sources.

While issuing a final warning to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to hold elections by December or face ban, the IOC, earlier this month, had called for a joint meeting on Tuesday “in order to agree on a constructive solution and establish a roadmap leading to the elections of IOA”.

“The meeting went off well. It was a constructive and fruitful meeting. A plan is there and I think we can have a solution. Let’s see,” a source privy to the development told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

On September 22, the Supreme Court gave its permission to IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta and vice president Adille Sumariwalla to participate in the meeting with the IOC, along with sports ministry officials.

The SC had also appointed former apex court judge Justice L Nageswara Rao for amending constitution of IOA and preparing electoral college. A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud asked Justice Rao to prepare a road map for amending the constitution and holding elections by December 15.

Meanwhile, shooter Abhinav Bindra, the country’s first individual Olympic gold medallist, also attended the meeting and presented his views.

“…unexpected for me, is to be back for a second meeting on this subject 10 years after the first one. So much has changed in Indian sport over the last ten years and yet a fair bit has not,” Bindra said in his statement to the joint meeting.

He was referring to a similar endeavour he was involved at when the IOA was banned by the IOC from December 2012 to February 2014.

“I have consulted with a number of athletes, both current and retired, from several Olympic disciplines and different parts of the country. There was much commonality in the suggestions from them.

“I wanted to express the overarching concern of all athletes – that it is athletes who suffer in case of any governance lapses and will continue to suffer if there is any suspension, de-recognition or other sanction on the IOA. All of this when athletes have no control or culpability in respect of the matters that affect their careers and livelihood. I hope this anguish will help contextualize the issues I raise.”

Bindra charted out five heads to address the matter, namely: 1. Athlete representation in governance, and athlete rights and responsibilities declaration; 2. Rationalized IOA membership structure, including athlete membership; 3. Clear responsibility framework with checks and balances in governance; 4. Operational and financial integrity; and 5. Institutional mechanism for dispute resolution and athlete welfare.

“These matters deeply impact athletes … all emphasis must be placed on ensuring there is full compliance with the Olympic Charter, the IOC Ethics standards and Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance, the National Sports Code of India and applicable law in India, as this is critical in order to maintain the integrity of the Olympic and sports movement in India.”

He made some suggestions which could make the IOA very uneasy as it has been opposing them for long.

“…limit membership structure to permit only Olympic/CWG/Asiad concerned NSFs to constitute voting membership, this is a vital step to ensure accountability. Voting members must be those who comply with the Olympic Charter, Sports Code and have Athletes Commissions in place. Others such as State Olympic Associations could be included as members without voting rights.

“The emphasis must be on ensuring that a full set of reforms and governance standards are implemented down to the bottom of the pyramid, including presence of an athletes’ commission. Further, individual IOA membership should be made available to a limited number of eminent athletes so that a pathway for retired Olympians and other athletes to join administration is created.”

The IOA elections were due in December last year but could not be held due to amendments in the poll process.

Last December, the IOA formed a six-member committee to look into the amendments to be made to its constitution before holding elections to align it with the National Sports Code.

In May this year, Narinder Batra was removed as IOA chief after the Delhi High Court struck down the post of ‘life member’ in Hockey India, through which he had contested and won the apex body elections in 2017.

Batra later officially resigned as IOA President. After he was removed by the High Court, Batra issued a statement, announcing his decision not to contest the IOA elections.