Olympics is the buzz word in India for the second time this year. In summers we produced our best results ever at the Olympics. Whereas by winter, our politicians and administrators have brought us to great shame. The suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over government interference in its elections is not only a disgrace for the country, but also an indicator to a system where administrators are placed above athletes.
It all started on 16th November, when for the IOA elections, Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody last year on corruption charges, filed his nomination to the post of the secretary general. A few days later the other two nominees withdrew their nomination, thereby setting Bhanot to be elected unopposed to the post. IOC asked for an explanation, to which no heed was paid by IOA. Result? IOA was suspended. Well, Bhanot is the new secretary to IOC, while Haryana state politician Abhey Singh Chautala (yes a close friend of Kalmadi) has taken over as the president.
Post suspension, IOA will no longer get funds from IOC. Our athletes will not be allowed to compete under the tricolour but will have to play under the IOC flag. The Olympic Council of Asia and the Commonwealth Games Federation may also place similar suspensions on IOA. While the politicians and their petty politics won, the athletes have lost again. This makes us wonder – how did the level sports in the land of selfless men like Dhyanchand come to be like this?
Well, involvement of politicians in sports in India is not a new disease. While IOC has done the right thing in banning IOC, I still believe a compromise will soon be reached. Most countries around the word have their own sports laws, so there is no reason things won’t get resolved. The suspension is aimed primarily at making things cleaner in our sports department, which presents us with an opportunity for change. Let us hope the change will soon come and Indian sports will ride further on the momentum that has been built starting with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.