Recently, FIFA banned India’s participation in all international competitions. Now, Indian athletes are facing the threat of suspension International Olympic Committee (IOC). Citing bad governance of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the IOC warning was issued on September 8, 2022. If the IOA does not align their governance with the IOC’s guidelines, then Indian athletes will not be allowed to participate in international competitions.
The IOA did not have their quadrennial election in December 2021 as is expected in accordance with the Olympic Chapter. Additionally, the IOC claims that India’s national athletics body is not being governed in an acceptable manner. In other words, the IOA is not being run according to the IOC’s guidelines. So, a warning has been issued to get their governance in order and hold elections, or else they will face consequences.
A Serious Blow to Athletes’ Morale
It was just over a year ago, when an earthquake rumbled across the nation. Neeraj Chopra, had just won India’s first ever gold medal in athletics, and celebrations erupted all over the country. Instantly, Chopra became a symbol and role model for hope and aspiration to the younger generation. Kids around the country became more interested in athletics, and more government funding was received for athletics programs across the country.
Anticipation of the Women’s Soccer World Cup was at an all time high, until FIFA decided to ban the AIFF from participation in Indian competitions. Their reason, was bad governance and possible 3rd party influence on decision making within the organization.
Now India’s athletes have been dealt another blow, with a suspension from all international competitions, highly likely. All we can hope is that the ICC doesn’t decide to ban India’s national cricket team from competitions one day. Because that may be considered a declaration of war to many Indian cricket fanatics.
What Does the IOA Suspension Mean?
Should the warning turn into reality, then Indian athletes will face a serious dilemma. Firstly, if banned, athletes will not be allowed to compete as they will not be allowed to represent India and the flag. Secondly, they could be allowed to participate, but without representing any nation.
The latter option already exists for Russian athletes. Many of them, who were not directly affiliated with the Russian funded doping scheme, were stripped of the opportunity to represent their country in competitions. Thus, today they participate under the Olympic national flag, which stands for neutrality. If Indian athletes were to be suspended, then they would have to follow the course of Russian athletes.
One other serious repercussion could be that we see a lot of athletes retire. This may be due to sponsorship deals being pulled, less government funding and of course lack of incentives to compete locally. Alternatively, some athletes in the prime of their careers may defect to other countries.
When Is a Decision Due?
A specific date has not been set, but the IOC has given the IOA 3 months to fix things. India is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2012, the IOA was banned for similar governance issues and then reinstated in 2014. So, they should not take this warning lightly.
The threat of suspension is real. So, it’s about time that the government took stricter steps to maintaining order and good etiquette in the nation’s sports’ governing bodies. We the fans, deserve to see and cheer for our beloved athletes, representing our Crimson, Green and White flag with dignity and honour.
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