The internal strife in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that resulted in court cases and delayed elections, have resulted in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board postponing the 140th IOC Session to be held in Mumbai from May 2023 to September/October in the same year and threatened to suspend India from the Olympic movement again.
The IOC Executive Board (EB), in a meeting on Thursday, also issued a final warning to the Indian stakeholders to resolve their ongoing internal disputes, governance shortcomings and ongoing court cases due to which the elections, to be held in December 2021, have been delayed.
In case the Indian stakeholders fail to resolve these issues highlighted by the EB, the IOC said it “will not hesitate to suspend the National Olympic Committee (NOC)”.
If the IOC takes the extreme step, it will be the second time that India will be going through such a situation in recent times after being suspended for similar reasons between 2012 and 2014.
The IOA is currently divided into two factions — one led by Narinder Dhruv Batra, who had to quit his post as president on court orders, and the other owing allegiance to secretary-general Rajeev Mehta.
The Sports Ministry is also in the mix as it is interested in having a BJP leader at the helm, just like it managed to do in the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Given the current situation, the IOC EB also decided to postpone the 140th IOC Session to be held in May-June 2023 in Mumbai to September/October 2023, the IOC informed in a press conference after the hybrid EB meeting in Lausanne on Thursday.
The IOC gave the Indian Olympic Association time till the next IOC Executive Board meeting in December 2022 to put its house in order over internal squabbles, resolve issues related to governance, conduct elections according to the Olympic Charter, and also settle the various court cases before that.
In case, IOA is not able to satisfy the IOC on any or all of these counts, the IOC will suspend India from the Olympic movement and its sportspersons will not be allowed to participate in any international competitions under the national flag and colours.
“In view of the ongoing internal disputes, governance shortcomings and continuing court cases, the EB decided to issue a final warning and consider the immediate suspension of the NOC of India at the next EB meeting in December 2022 if, by then, the NOC of India is not able to:
“1. address and resolve its governance issues to the IOC’s satisfaction, in the interests of sport and the athletes; and
“2. operate properly through its governing bodies, i.e. the Executive Committee and General Assembly, and fulfil its obligations, in particular by holding its quadrennial elections in accordance with the Olympic Charter,” the IOC said in a statement released after the EB meeting.
“In view of the uncertain situation, the IOC Session due to take place in Mumbai in May 2023, has been postponed until September/October 2023. Depending on the decisions taken during its next meeting in December 2022 relating to the NOC of India, the IOC EB will decide as to whether the IOC Session in 2023 should be maintained in India or be relocated,” the IOC said.
In order to agree on a constructive solution and establish a roadmap leading to NOC elections, the IOC will organise a joint meeting with all parties concerned later this month in Lausanne. The composition of the Indian delegation for that meeting is not yet decided, the IOC informed.
The IOC also said it does not recognise any interim president appointed by the court or any other body and will communicate with the secretary-general of the incumbent body till the new, duly elected body is put in place.