India Meetings "Fruitful" Says IOC

(ATR) Staging “free, fair, democratic and transparent elections” is the next step for the suspended Indian Olympic Association to regain recognition, says the IOC.

(ATR) Staging "free, fair, democratic and transparent elections" is the next step for the suspended Indian Olympic Association to regain recognition, says the IOC.

Atop the agenda for Wednesday’s "fruitful meetings" among the IOC, IOA and a delegation from the Indian Sports Ministry was exploring the possibility of such a process.

According to an IOC statement, its Executive Board would only consider lifting its ban if said elections were held "with no outside interference" and with a "revised" IOA constitution in place.

EB members suspended the IOA in December for failing to comply with Olympic Charter requirements of autonomy from the government. The IOC warned that if the IOA proceeded with its Dec. 5 elections, the new officials would not be recognized. Among those elected was secretary general Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody for corruption involving the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Also elected was president V.K. Malhotra, a noticeable absence from Wednesday’s summit in Lausanne.

Originally, the talks were supposed to take place with the Malhotra-led IOA, Indian IOC member Randhir Singh and members of the sports ministry. However, late last week the IOC invited members of the unrecognized IOA to the table, a move Malhotra called a departure from original plans, prompting him and Singh to cancel their trips to Switzerland.

Still, the meetings moved forward as scheduled. In fact, Wednesday’s release from the IOC makes no mention of who wasn’t there, only who was.

"Sports Minister [Jitendra] Singh gave strong guarantees and a clear commitment that the government of India will fully respect the principle of autonomy of the Olympic Movement," says the IOC.

"In addition, a mutual understanding was reached to establish close cooperation between all parties concerned. It was agreed in particular that the drafting of the new sports bill will be undertaken in close coordination with the IOA and the National Federations, and with prior consultation with the IOC to ensure that it will be fully compatible with the principles and rules of the Olympic Movement."

According to the IOC, the IOA should now hold an extraordinary meeting to strengthen its governance and ethics, then a "fresh" general meeting to elect new officers.

"The entire process will be closely monitored and supervised by the IOC, which will issue a roadmap for the suspended IOA and all its members to follow," adds Wednesday’s statement from the IOC.

As long as the IOA is banned, India is no longer entitled to any financial support from the IOC, and athletes will not be able to compete under the Indian flag at IOC events.

Written by Matthew Grayson.

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