IOC issues final notice; to suspend India if IOA polls not held by Dec

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LAUSANNE: The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee Thursday issued a final warning to the Indian Olympic Association to "resolve its governance issues" and hold elections by December, failing which the IOC will ban India. 

An immediate fallout of the edict is that the IOC Session, which was due to take place in Mumbai in May 2023, has been postponed to September or October 2023.

The IOC EB also decided not to recognise any "acting/interim president" after Narinder Batra's ouster as IOA president and said it will deal with secretary general Rajeev Mehta as its point person.

It bears noting that IOA vice president Adille Sumariwalla had claimed late last month that he had been “appointed” president by the IOA executive council and the IOC's move is a direct reaction to the unseemly political maneuverings within India's Olympic body.

The IOC EB received a report on the situation of the IOA highlighting the recurrent internal disputes and governance issues within India's national body, which have caused delays in the holding of its quadrennial elections that should have taken place in December 2021 and "have affected the ongoing development of sport in the country." The EB noted that the IOA had already been suspended by the IOC for similar reasons between 2012 and 2014.

In view of the ongoing internal disputes, governance shortcomings and continuing court cases, the EB decided to issue a final warning and consider the immediate suspension of the IOA at the next EB meeting in December if, by then, the IOA is not able to:
*address and resolve its governance issues to the IOC’s satisfaction, in the interests of sport and the athletes; and
*operate properly through its governing bodies, i.e. the executive committee and general assembly, and fulfil its obligations, in particular by holding its quadrennial elections in accordance with the Olympic Charter.

In order to agree on a constructive solution and establish a roadmap leading to NOC elections, the IOC will organise a joint meeting with all parties concerned later this month in Lausanne.

In view of the uncertain situation, the IOC Session due to take place in Mumbai in May 2023 has been postponed until September/October 2023. Depending on the decisions taken during its next meeting in December relating to the IOA, the IOC EB will decide as to whether the IOC Session in 2023 should be maintained in India or be relocated.

The IOC had also earlier threatened to suspend the IOA if it failed to conduct its election at the earliest. The IOA elections were due in December last year but could not be held due to amendments in the poll process.

Last December, the IOA had formed a six-member committee to look into the amendments to be made to its constitution before holding elections so as to align it with the National Sports Code.

In May this year, Batra was removed as IOA chief after the Delhi High Court struck down the post of 'life member' in Hockey India, through which he had contested and won the apex body elections in 2017.

Batra later officially resigned as IOA President. After he was removed by the High Court, Batra had issued a statement, announcing his decision not to contest the IOA elections. 

The IOC has additionally made clear that it reserves the right to take any further action at any stage of the process depending on how the situation develops.

Any suspension of an national Olympic body means, in particular, that:
*the athletes of the country are no longer be able to represent their country and compete under the country’s flag/name at the Olympic Games and other international sports events, as the case may be; and
*the NOC is no longer entitled to operate as an NOC according to its role as defined in the Olympic Charter. In addition, it will no longer receive any funding from the Olympic Movement until the suspension is lifted.