Falling in line

IOA may have saved India from an Olympic expulsion, but the body needs far-reaching reforms

Had India been expelled from the Olympics, the ignominy would have been far greater than the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) a year ago. It would have been the first time an NOC (national olympic committee) was thrown out since South Africa's expulsion more than four decades ago for its policy of Apartheid. It would have been nothing short of a death blow to India's fledgling attempts at raising its rank in the medals tally. Its athletes might have been robbed of their dreams by being denied participation certainly under the national flag in the greatest sporting arena.

The IOA's decision to amend its constitution will bring relief to India's athletes and sports fans. But that the IOA held out for so long against the IOC stricture on electing persons charged with corruption smacks of safeguarding its own interests. The IOC's issuing of an ultimatum that the amendment be made by December 10-11 forced the IOA's Sunday meeting, at which it was decided that Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot wouldn't be part of its new dispensation.

The IOA and other NOCs may have several bones to pick with the IOC, some justifiable. But the "rules of good governance" couldn't have been one of those. And the IOA is yet to convince observers it is willingly implementing the reforms. Moreover, merely removing or debarring a few "tainted" officials will not reform the body, nor effect the overhaul of sport management India needs. Neither does letting former sportspersons head sporting bodies necessarily provide "good governance". What the IOA needs is a competent and professional management that cares about sport. That should be the guiding principle for its February 9 elections.

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