Saturday, March 9, 2013

India hopeful of getting back into Olympic fold

NEW DELHI, March 8, 2013 AP

A top government officer said hopes to meet International Olympic Committee officials at its headquarters in Switzerland next month in a bid to end the suspension placed upon the Indian Olympic Association.

"I'm in touch with IOA officials who have been corresponding with the IOC and am hoping to finalize the dates of our meetings in April," the sports secretary P.K. Deb told The Associated Press on Friday. "We are hopeful things will be sorted out soon."

"They'd wanted the meetings in March but that might be difficult since our minister (Jitender Singh) will be busy in the ongoing Parliament session till March-end."

The IOA was suspended after it went ahead with elections on Dec.5 despite the world body declaring them "null and void."

The IOC has since been corresponding only with IOA's former acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra and former secretary-general Randhir Singh while making it clear that only fresh elections could bring India back into the Olympic fold.

The IOC had asked the IOA to adhere to its own constitution and not follow a government sports code. But the IOA went ahead with the election process, citing a Delhi High Court order that said the polls should be in line with the code.

The IOC's ethics commission had also advised that tainted officials shouldn't hold administrative posts, but Lalit Bhanot was declared elected unopposed as the new secretary-general despite spending 11 months in jail for corruption cases related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Suresh Kalmadi, who headed the IOA for 16 years, decided not to seek re-election after graft charges relating to the Commonwealth Games but backed new president Abhey Chautala and Bhanot.

An Olympic ban means a national federation is not eligible for funding from the IOC. Officials from the suspended federation can't attend meetings and athletes can compete only under the Olympic flag.
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