The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) fears that the nation might be suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) if it accepts the reforms in the National Sports Code 2017, and, hence, has rejected the document completely. The IOA was left surprised after the government sought feedback on the document after Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju made a committee to look into the age cap of federation officials on October 11 this year.
The draft calls for an age limit of 70 for members of the IOA and also a ban on government officials from holding office at the national sports federations, but IOA secretary-general Rajeev Mehta felt that it is a form of government interference. Hence, the IOA has gone ahead and rejected the code.
“We, the IOA and all our members, outright reject the new draft sports code as it interferes in the autonomy of the IOA and its members,” Mehta told PTI.
The IOA was suspended by the international committee in 2012 due to government interference, though they were reinstated 14 months later. If India were to be suspended for a second time, it would be a major embarrassment to IOA President Narinder Batra, who became a member of the IOC in June. It would also put a hold to India’s plans of hosting the 2032 Olympics and the Paralympics. India has also submitted a bid to host the session of the IOC in 2023.
The IOC had already suspended India from hosting major events this year after it denied visas to two Pakistani shooters for the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. The suspension was soon lifted, however.
India is currently following the National Sports Code that was formed in 2011, but a new draft was made in 2017, which proposed changes like barring of ministers and MLAs from holding office in sports federations. It also asked for an eminent athlete to be a part of the National Sports Federation.