IOA bosses tried to be too clever...

On the flip side of the IOC’s action, the fallout on Indian athletes could be severe — at least as long as the current impasse stays

uite simply, the Indian Olympic Association has shot itself in the foot in trying to be a little too clever. By looking to play off either side against the middle in the form of the International Olympic Committee and the Indian government to preserve its overweening powers, the IOA has ended up scoring an own goal.

Suspended by the IOC’s executive committee for not following the Olympic Charter and, more important, cocking a snook at the suggestion by the IOC’s ethics commission that tainted officials like Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Bhanot be kept away from the election process, the organisation that claims to represent Indian sport at the highest international level is now effectively out in the cold. And true to form, those responsible for the mess are busy playing the blame game. President-elect Abhay Singh Chautala, who should have been IOA president today but for his propensity — and those of his advisers — to walk the fine line, claims that IOC member and IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh is responsible, while the latter claims that had his suggestions been followed earlier, things would never have come to this sorry pass.
At the heart of the matter are essentially two issues — one, the looming presence of Mr Kalmadi, who was hell-bent on halting his former comrade-in-arms Randhir Singh from becoming IOA chief; and two, the reluctance of Olympic officials in India to accept the government’s sports code as part of its constitution simply because it would shake up too many cosily entrenched politicians who have too much to lose by any such step. After all, what the government suggested in the code is not too different from what already exists in the Olympic Charter, but that is not to the liking of the powers that be in Indian sport. On the flip side of the IOC’s action, the fallout on Indian athletes could be severe — at least as long as the current impasse stays, and it shows no signs of abating with the IOA going ahead with its “election” despite what has transpired over the past 24 hours. With the IOC withdrawing recognition and affiliation, Indian athletes cannot play under the tricolour. They will not be eligible for IOC scholarships. They cannot enter the Olympics, the Asian Games or Commonwealth Games as Team India. Even the South Asian Federation Games here in New Delhi are now under threat. None of this, however, seems to matter to those who have pushed Indian sport into this corner.

Whatever their political leanings may be, the residents of India’s capital agree on one thing. New Delhi’s air is foul.

As a neutral observer, I have no hesitation in saying that at this moment there is hardly any political party which could pose a political challenge to the BJP at the national level, but that doesn’t