New Delhi: Miffed at the “interference” of Sports Ministry in its affairs, Indian Olympic Association on Monday told the visiting International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to convey to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi its opposition to the Sports Code of the government in its current form.
Bach, visiting the country for the first time since being elected as IOC chief in 2013, had a meeting with top IOA members at a city hotel that lasted an hour and he will meet the Prime Minister later in the day.
The IOC chief also had an hour-long meeting with sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal at the same hotel. Sonowal was assisted by Sports Secretary Ajit Sharan and Sports Authority of India Director General Injeti Srinivas. Former IOA Secretary General and Honorary IOC member Randhir Singh also attended both the meetings.
Later, Sonowal hosted a lunch for the visiting dignitary which was attended by top IOA and sports ministry officials, Minister of State Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, besides Sonowal.
Abhay Singh Chautala, who served as president of the IOA during the 14-month suspension from the IOC, told reporters after the meeting that the members have told Bach to convey to the Prime Minister that they would oppose the Sports Bill as it “interferes” with the autonomy of the IOA.
“For some time, there has been this issue of the implementation of the Sports Bill. The earlier Congress government had tried to implement this Sports Bill and the current BJP government is also saying that it will implement the Bill,” Chautala, also an MLA of the Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana Legislative Assembly, said.
“The IOA members have requested the IOC President to convey to the Prime Minister when he meets him our feeling regarding the Sports Bill. There has been interference in the affairs of IOA from the Sports Ministry which is undermining the autonomy of the IOA under the Olympic Charter. This will harm Indian sports,” Chautala, now a Haryana Olympic Association official, said.
The IOA's objection to the Sports Code centers around two major issues—age limit of 70 of the office bearers of the IOA and the cutting into size the importance of the state units of the IOA.