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IOA criticises govt for leaving it out from HI, IHF talks

New Delhi: A miffed Indian Olympic Association on Friday hit out at the Sports Ministry for not involving it in merger talks set to take place tomorrow, to resolve the long-standing dispute between Hockey India and the Indian Hockey Federation.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken has summoned the presidents of HI and the IHF for a meeting tomorrow to resolve the two federations’ feud over recognition and power-sharing.

IOA acting President V K Malhotra said the ministry should have also taken the Olympic body into confidence.

“We also want one hockey body in the country. We have no objection if the government becomes a facilitator in the process but its jumping the gun and shooting from the hill is wrong and not acceptable,” he told reporters here today.

“Both the federations have approached us and written to us regarding the matter but the ministry has not involved IOA. We are not invited for tomorrow’s meeting and we only came to know about it from the media,” Malhotra said.

Though Malhotra welcomed the ministry’s move to play the facilitator’s role, he said Maken’s warning of firm action against HI and IHF if the merger proposal was not accepted, is a direct attack on the autonomy of the national federations.

“The government should not form a body. The minister (Maken) has warned that he will take stern action if the two bodies refuse to accept their proposal. It is not the way when the matter is subjudice.”

“The International Olympic Council will never tolerate the government’s interference in sports bodies,” Malhotra said.

He also said the IOA will seek Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention in solving its dispute over autonomy with the Sports Ministry.

“We are seeking time from the PM and we will talk to him,” Malhotra quipped.

Malhotra also came down hard on the ministry for not giving back office spaces to the National Sports Federations (NSFs) in the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, which were vacated before last year’s Commonwealth Games for renovation of the stadium.

“After the 1982 Asian Games, the then government had allotted office space to NSFs in Nehru stadium, Indira Gandhi Stadium, National Stadium and Talkatora stadium. Before the Commonwealth Games the federations were asked to vacate the stadia premises and were provided temporary accommodation in the NDMC building on rent basis,” he said.

“The CWG Organising Committee was paying the rent to NDMC but now they have stopped. The NDMC recently gave notice to NSFs to vacate their premises.

“Now that all five stadia have been handed over to the Sports Authority of India and 1000 rooms are lying vacant there, I don’t understand why office spaces were not being re-allotted to NSFs,” the IOA chief said.

Malhotra said instead of working with the NSFs, the Sports Ministry has resorted to “arm-twisting” by leaving the federations in the lurch.

“It is really heartening to know that the ministry has announced Rs 258.39 crore for the preparation of athletes for London Olympics but till date Mr Maken has not held a single meeting with NSFs. The ministry should sit together with federations and take decisions,” he said.

The IOA president also rued the absence of a dedicated SAI centre in the Capital and requested the government to allow NSFs to organise national and international events in the stadia built for the Commonwealth Games.

“There is no SAI centre in Delhi. A sports hostel should also be built in Delhi,” Malhotra said.

“The government has spent more than Rs 6,000 crore in the re-construction of the stadia but not a single ground is available to athletes for training.

“There should be maximum utilisation of these stadiums.

The government should encourage federations to organise events and provide them for free for national and international competitions,” he added.

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