A turf battle

Who controls sport? Are there consistent rules of the game? The IOC-IOA face-off highlights crucial issues

Against the backdrop of athletes chasing faster, higher and stronger dreams, India's suspension from the Olympic movement has spotlighted an old, bitterly fought battle. It's the turf war to control sport, a modern-day property whose ownership comes with influence and, at most times, unlimited funds.

Historically, the international and national Olympic bodies have considered themselves the sole proprietors of sport. Lately, however, governments, the biggest funders and the all-important stakeholders at mega events like the Summer Games, have started asserting themselves for extra space, more influence. This has often led to power struggles, court cases and mudslinging. To complicate matters, the Olympic charter, government guidelines and the law of the land don't always follow the same grammar. Without a common rule, it is tough to break the deadlock in a dispute. That's the reason for the sudden downpour of righteous responses in the current episode. The International Olympic Committee, the Indian Olympic Association and the sports ministry took turns to claim the moral high ground, blaming the others for not following the real rules. This debate has an overwhelming stench of hypocrisy. While the IOC flaunts its zero tolerance for governmental interference, the reason the IOA was suspended, it constantly seeks state intervention and cooperation when it comes to hosting the Olympics and the Asian Games. The IOA conveniently snuggles up to the sports ministry when it is bidding for mega sporting events but when the government talks about accountability, it goes on the warpath. Besides, change cannot always be a virtue. Take the boxing federation, where the present set of administrators are doing a good job and the results are there for all to see. In case the present body is meddled with, it may even be that boxing witnesses a slump.

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