IOC suspends India for government interference

New Delhi/Lausanne: In a major embarrassment for India, the International Olympic Committee today suspended the Indian Olympic Association because of government interference in its election process, a development which puts a bar on the country's Olympic participation.
 
The decision to disaffiliate India was taken on the first day of the IOC's Executive Board meeting, Associated Press reported from Lausanne, quoting two top officials who pleaded anonymity.
 
The decision was largely expected after the IOA decided to go ahead with the elections tomorrow under the government's Sports Code, defying the IOC's diktat to hold the polls under the Olympic Charter.
 
The IOC had repeatedly told the IOA not 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. But the IOA went ahead saying they were bound by the Delhi High Court order.
 
Suspension meant that the IOA will stop receiving IOC funding and its officials will be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events. India's athletes will be barred from competing in Olympic events under their national flag, but they can participate under the IOC banner.
 
The news of the suspension was greeted with dismay and anguish as sportspersons and IOA officials spoke about the far-reaching implications of the decision.
 
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said that it was an "unfortunate decision" for Indian sports community and indicated that he was "willing to take the first step" to resolve the dispute.
 
"We are willing to take the first step to resolve the issue. It is not the time for a blame game. Sports Ministry is open to sit together with representatives from government, the IOC and the IOA," he said.