Do not enforce sports guidelines, IOC to Ministry

Lausanne: The International Olympic Committee has once again warned the Sports Ministry against enforcing the age and tenure limitation guidelines on India`s National Sports Federations, saying such a move would jeopardise the country`s participation in international events including Olympics.

In a letter to new Sports Minister Ajay Maken, who has proposed a sports bill in the Parliament which fixes tenures and ages for NSF heads, the IOC said while it does not intend to interfere, it would still keep an eye on the contents of the bill.

"We have been informed that your Ministry has proposed a preliminary draft of new sports legislation in India. It is, of course, not the intention of the IOC to interfere directly in this process, and we fully understand and respect the fact that such process is under the jurisdiction of the relevant Government authorities in India," the letter stated.

"Nevertheless, it is our understanding that the organisations of the Olympic Movement in India (in particular the NOC and National Federations) would be directly impacted and affected by this new sports legislation.

"…the autonomy and the jurisdiction of each entity shall be mutually respected whilst ensuring the best possible cooperation with the Government authorities, as partners," it added.

The IOC said the Ministry should not interfere in the election process of the NSFs by enforcing any criteria.

"By way of example, we fully understand that if the national sports organisations receive public funds, they must, logically and legitimately, be accountable for the use of such specific funds to the public authorities concerned.

"This must not, however, be used by the Government authorities to justify interference in the internal operation of these organisations or to treat them as public authorities (which they are not)," the IOC said.

"It should rather contribute, complementarily and jointly, to the development of these organisations and thus sporting activity as a whole. Consequently, the internal operations (including the composition of the bodies, decision-making mechanisms, holding of meetings, election process, age limit (if any), number of terms for the elected office-bearers, mechanisms for resolving disputes, etc.) of the national sports organisations shall come under the exclusive jurisdiction of these respective sports organisations," it added.

"In that field, the Government authorities may suggest but shall not force the national sports organisations to adopt specific criteria. Otherwise, this would be contrary to the principle of autonomy of these sports organisations in their internal operations," the letter said.

The IOC said whether the new guidelines can be adhered to or not should be left to NSFs.

"Once again, the IOC does not say whether the criteria mentioned in the new draft sports legislation are appropriate or not but says only that the national sports organisations ? as autonomous legal entities – should be able to decide by themselves whether they shall adopt such criteria or not," it said.

"Hence, these criteria might be proposed or suggested by the Government, but should not, however, be imposed.

"…thus avoid any breach of the principle of autonomy and incompatibilities with the rules of the Olympic Movement and the international sports organisations to which the national sports organisations in India are affiliated and which allow the representation of India on the international sports scene.

"If not, India`s representation and participation in upcoming international sports events (in particular for qualification to and participation in the Olympic Games) might be threatened and subject to measures taken by the international sports organisations, and we would be obliged to present this case again at the next IOC Executive Board meeting, which will take place on 5 and 6 April 2011 in London," it added.