Changes only the beginning
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Now that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has finally agreed, although reluctantly, to amend its constitution so that administrators with a tainted past will not be eligible to contest the elections, the likes of Suresh Kalmadi, Lalit Bhanot and Abhay Singh Chautala will be out of the Olympic organisation, at least for the time being.
Keeping tainted officials away is a step in the right direction, no doubt. But there is still a lot to be done before the IOA can hope to repair its damaged reputation. Bhanot and Chautala, who feel targeted and singled out, say they have stepped aside keeping in mind the larger 'interest of the nation' and to 'protect' athletes' interest.
That, however, is hardly the case. It must be noted that the IOA has not willingly accepted the reform clauses. They have toed the line only after newly-elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach threatened to disaffiliate India if they failed to amend the constitution as directed by them. Nevertheless, it is crucial that IOA implements the proposed reforms without diluting them. Already, there are indications that Chautala and Bhanot will continue to run the show from behind the scenes by appointing their proxies for top IOA posts. If that happens, then this whole exercise will be rendered pointless.
Secondly, one needs to understand that merely keeping a couple of 'corrupt' officials away is hardly a solution to the problems that beset the Indian Olympic organisation. Ever since the IOC cracked the whip last December, the debate over IOA's suspension has revolved solely around the presence of tainted officials in the system. But this is just a part of the problem. What IOA also needs is to adopt measures to ensure smooth, professional functioning where a sportsperson's interests are well
Having a sportsperson or an official with a clean image at the helm of affairs does not automatically ensure good governance. Several federations, notably athletics and wrestling, have sportspersons in key positions. However, the less we talk about the way these sports are administered the better. What IOA needs is a taskmaster with managerial acumen and interest to steady the ship. For these reasons, how the IOA conducts itself between now and February 9, when the fresh elections will be held, will be keenly observed.
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