The banning of India from the International Olympic Committee last week would appear to be a punishment for the budding athletes rather than those it is aimed at teaching a lesson, however the IOC does have a loophole through which it can allow offer these athletes a lifeline.
India was suspended from the IOC as a result of government interference in its election process of officers for the local committee. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said India was suspended “due to its failure to comply with the Olympic Charter and its statutes and failure to inform the IOC in a timely manner”.
The IOC executive board imposed the sanction when despite warning them for months the Indian Olympic Association failed to comply with the world body’s demands for holding independent elections.
At the end of last week the IOA announced the appointment of officials to posts which were not contested in the elections. Lalit Bhanot, was appointed to the position of secretary-general despite facing charges relating to the Commonwealth Games. Ironically the Indian elections were in essence brought about to replace Suresh Kalmadi, who was jailed for nine months on corruption charges related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
The IOC suspension means that the Indian body will stop receiving IOC funding and its officials will be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events. India’s athletes will be barred from competing in Olympic events under their national flag, although the IOC could allow them to do so under the Olympic flag, let us hope that this is the case as they should not be made to suffer for things that they cannot control.
It could also be in the interests of the IOC in terms of sponsorship dollars as if India can produce some World Class athletes the possibilities are immense. India, with a population of more than one billion, has so far failed to cause any ripples in the Olympic arena. Whereas neighbouring China has emerged as one of sport’s global powerhouses, following successful development programs and massive investment in sport. It is understood that India would have few athletes vying for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but if allowed to compete some of its promising athletes may well be pressing for places at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. It would be a shame to deprive them of that opportunity due to internal politics.