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IOC, exiled India hold fruitful talks

LAUSANNE (AFP) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday said it had held successful meetings with exiled member India, following its suspension over claims of corruption and political meddling.

The Lausanne-based body said its representatives held “fruitful” talks with India s sports minister, Jitendra Singh, as well as members of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to discuss the country s eventual return to the fold.

India s IOC membership was suspended in December after Lalit Bhanot, who is facing corruption charges linked to the scandal-hit New Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, was elected IOA secretary-general.

The IOC said the South Asian giant — a consistent under-performer at Olympic level despite its size and population, had “failed to comply with the Olympic Charter” and there had been government interference in the IOA election process.

But according to the IOC, Wednesday s meeting in Switzerland saw Singh give “strong guarantees and a clear commitment that the government of India will fully respect the principle of autonomy of the Olympic movement”.

“In addition, a mutual understanding was reached to establish close cooperation between all parties concerned.

“It was agreed in particular that the drafting of the new sports bill will be undertaken in close cooperation with the IOA and the national federations and with prior consultation with the IOC to ensure that it will be fully compatible with the principles and rules of the Olympic Movement.”

In addition, it is anticipated that the IOA — currently headed by interim chief Vijay Kumar Malhotra, would review its constitution to improve governance and ethics before members elect new office-bearers.

“The entire process will be closely monitored by the IOC, which will issue a roadmap for the suspended IOA and all its members to follow,” the IOC added.

Malhotra, an 81-year-old archery administrator who was also involved with the 2010 Commonwealth Games organising committee, last month threatened to scupper talks by refusing to accept proposed new rules that would force the IOA secretary-general to retire at aged 70 and limit tenures in office to 12 years.

The former lawmaker for the main opposition Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) complained in a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge that the limits broke the Olympic Charter and were tantamount to political interference by the ruling Congress party.

Suspension from the IOC means India does not receive funding from the world body, its officials cannot attend Olympic events while athletes are barred from competing in the Olympics under the national flag.

 

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