New Delhi: Government on Wednesday said it was confident that issues between International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) can be resolved in time and promised steps to ensure participation of Indian sportspersons in international sporting events. Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament) that government is working to resolve the issue soon so that Indian sportspersons do not suffer.
"We have spoken to IOC and they have given an assurance that Indian sportspersons do not suffer. But government is working 24 hours to ensure to resolve the issue," he said replying to a Calling Attention Motion by Jagat Prakash Nadda (BJP), N K Singh (JD-U) and Vivek Gupta (TMC) on situation arising out of the suspension of IOA by IOC. "The decision to suspend the IOA is a very unfortunate development in Indian sports. It will not have a major impact on Indian participation in international sporting events in the immediate future. The government is confident that the issues between the IOC and IOA can be resolved in time.
"The government is committed to take all possible measures to protect the interests of the Indian sportspersons and to ensure that they participate in international sports events under the Indian national flag," Singh said. The Minister held that the national sports code, which is cited as the main reason for government's interference in functioning of sports bodies, "does not in any manner violate the Olympic Charter".
Stressing on transparency in sports bodies, he said as many as 48 such federations are ready to agree to government's code that lays down certain age and tenure restrictions and bring good governance and transparency in their functioning. Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley sought to know if government and sports bodies will show some element of statesmanship to resolve the issue of derecognition by IOC.
He said sports is a state subject and sought to know if government can resist the temptation of interfering in the day to day functioning of sports bodies. Jaitley said while sports bodies wanted their autonomy to be maintained, he suggested to draw balance between autonomy and good governance and asked if the Ministry was ready to agree to such suggestions.
The Sports Minister said the government had preempted the IOC move to disaffiliate IOA and had written to it in November that government had no intention to interfere in the functioning of IOA and it just wanted the sports code, which was as per Olympic Charter, to be followed. He said government will talk to all concerned including Parliamentarians to frame a sports policy and Vision Document to help bring India at the top position in the world.
Mani Shankar Aiyar (Cong) said IOC has not disqualified a French body despite a law in France which existed for years framing a sports code. He said IOA has refused to cooperate in working the sports code and comply with the charter, which he said was not fair play. Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) stressed the need for creating good infrastructure to produce better sports talent. He said unfortunately, barring cricket, better infrastructure was not available for other sports despite players excelling in sports like hockey.
Earlier, Jagat Prakash Nadda (BJP) said it was failure on the part of the Indian Olympics Association (IOA), lack of transparency and alleged interference of government leading to such a situation and mockery of the country. He said it is unfortunate that Indian team would not be able to participate under the Indian flag adding that the reference of High Court by the government was confusing and misleading. N K Singh (JD-U) said unfortunately sports in India instead of national pride has become a means to earning and paying bills and its medal tally stood at 0.2 per 10 million population, much less than some smaller countries where it was 185 per 10 million.
He sought to know the fate of National Sports Policy. Vivek Gupta (Trinamool) wanted to know about the sports policy, while Birendra Prasad Baishya (AGP) sought to know whether the government was taking up the matter with IOC. V Hanumantha Rao (Cong) said government had to intervene in the functioning of the IOA as key officials of the sports bodies were continuing on their posts for periods up to 20 years, treating the organisations as their property.
Others who spoke on the issue included C M Ramesh (TDP), Ramesh Singh Prajapati (Ind), Prashant Chatterjee (CPI-M), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool), Yogendra P Trivedi (NCP) and V P Singh Badnore (BJP).