The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), and to me, this is the best thing that could have happened to Indian sport. It is, like Abhinav Bindra has said, a 'blessing in disguise', an opportunity to clean things up, run sport the way it should be run.
POLITICS EXISTS everywhere and sports
administrations around the world
are not an exception. But in most parts of the world, politics and corruption don’t take over sports; they don’t become the priority. Athletes and sports come first.
In India, sport is very low priority for the government and while that’s not a good thing, it’s easy to understand why this is the case. India, after all, has many other issues to grapple with and sport cannot take precedence over, say healthcare and education and defence. But, at the same time, sports can’t be ignored the way it has been by the powers-that-be in Indian political circles. There was an opportunity to make a difference after the Commonwealth Games scam, but that was allowed to pass – it’s a tradition in our back-scratching country. Had action been taken then, the shame could have been avoided.
The problem in India is that sport is run by politicians cutting across party lines. For every Suresh Kalmadi (Congress), you have a VK Malhotra (BJP) and sport is among the few places where everyone works together. It doesn’t help one to pull down the other.
Talking specifically about the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), see it’s simple: the Olympic Games is run by the IOC and national associations must necessarily adhere to the Olympic Charter in every case – organization, administration, etc. The law of the land is irrelevant. So if the IOA is asked to run its affairs in accordance with the Charter, grandly announcing that “we are following the order of the High Court” is pointless. It doesn’t even qualify as an argument.
But then, this is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to clean things up. There must be a drive, by prominent sportspersons, to take up the reins of Indian Olympic sport in their own hands. Sportspersons must come first. There is no room for corruption in sport and it’s time the government understood that. It’s a chance for the central government to step in and set an example. Of course, such chances have gone abegging, in sports and elsewhere, on many occasions in the past.
(The writer is Senior Editor, Wisden India and author of Bhiwani Junction - The Untold Story of Boxing in India)
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