This article made me see red today: Suspension of Indian Olympic Association figures in RS
The reason cited by the International Olympic Committee was (get this!) “governmental interference”. Don’t laugh too hard. You might get hurt. Here are the pertinent paragraphs:
In a huge embarrassment for India, the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday suspended the Indian Olympic Association because of government interference, a development which put a bar on the country`s Olympic participation. The IOC ban implies that India cannot participate in international events like Olympics.
The IOC had repeatedly told the IOA not to follow the government`s sports code for the elections on the ground that it would be a violation of the Olympic Charter and compromise autonomy.
Autonomy is great. I support independent sports programs. I also support national sovereignty. But where was the IOC when the Eastern bloc nations were cheating, doping and subsidizing their ways to medals they perhaps did not deserve? Even our best friend Canada had the now laughable “Own the Podium” program in the last Winter Olympics. Isn’t that “government interference”? It certainly was intended to interfere in the result – who wins! Letting India have rules to determine how long IOA members may serve certainly seem de minimus to me.
I would agree that the best situations are private, free enterprise-based sports sponsorship. Governments ought not even have a ministry of sport. How is that not “governmental interference”?
As far as the India sports crisis, this article seems to make several good points:
But in the case of India, the position appears to be quite the opposite because the National Sports Code only seeks transparency and accountability from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the NSFs in promoting the Olympic movement in the country. We need to examine four issues surrounding the IOA suspension episode to gain clarity. First, the refusal of the IOA to comply with the IOC’s directive to conduct elections as per their constitution and to keep tainted officials out of the fray; second, the government’s insistence on the IOA following the basic universal principles of good governance; third, the directive of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi giving overriding effect to the National Sports Code in the event of conflict between the code and the IOA’s constitution; and fourth, the IOA’s decision to go ahead with its sham elections in defiance of the IOC directive.
It sounds to me that while perhaps India should have tried to avoid the provocation of selecting allegedly dubious officials, it seems that India ought to have the right to govern its sports interests with minimum international interference. The article makes the point that the USA has a sports law that governs our USOC:
After all, the IOC does not object to the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which grants monopoly status to the U.S. Olympic Committee subject to good governance requirements for it and its member national governing bodies for individual sports.
So what is it? The IOC will not get rid of sports ministers. Nor government subsidies for sports programs.
This might be a solution: India would step away from the Games and come back stronger.
But in the end, every Indian should derive solace in what has happened because what the IOC has dished out is bitter sweet — bitter because it is outrageous to penalise the nation and its athletes for the IOA’s fault, and sweet because it gives us an unprecedented opportunity to cleanse Indian sports by bidding farewell to the spoilt sport czars of the IOA. Let athletes and committed sports administrators rise to the occasion and carry the Olympic torch forward. If necessary, let India follow the Chinese precedent of voluntarily withdrawing from the Olympics only to come back stronger (China voluntarily withdrew from the Summer Olympics in 1952 when it had a dispute with the IOC regarding the recognition granted to Taiwan as “Republic of China,” and returned in 1984 and stood fourth in the medal standings).
Note the historical fact cited here: China bullied the IOC into treating the Republic of China with disrespect – the Republic of China cannot use their national name or flag at the Games! That should stop.
But, I digress. The IOC and the Indian sports officials, government and private, need to resolve this crisis before athletes are hurt and a national reputation further damaged.