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SBD Global/December 6, 2012/OlympicsPrint All
The Indian Olympic Association went ahead with its Annual General Meeting and elections Wednesday, "defying the ban imposed by the IOC," according to the PTI. IOA acting President V.K. Malhotra said, "The house unanimously decided that we did not do anything wrong by going ahead with the election process. We had already communicated to the IOC that the IOA will have to go ahead with the elections under the sports code because of the Delhi High Court order." Malhotra said that the IOA has "sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the matter." Malhotra: "We are hoping to sort the issue by sitting together with the representatives of IOC, IOA and the government. We have to find a common ground between the Olympic Charter, Sports Code and the Delhi HC order" (PTI, 12/5).
ELECTIONS QUESTIONED: The PTI also reported Abhay Singh Chautala took over as IOA president while the "tainted" sports administrator Lalit Bhanot became the secretary general after the IOA "conducted its controversial elections," defying the IOC's directive not to go ahead with the polls. Chautala and Bhanot were declared elected unopposed in the polls conducted by an Election Commission made up of retired high court justices, just a day after the IOC suspended the national Olympic body. After his election to the high-profile post, Chautala "defended the decision to go ahead with the polls despite IOC's directive, saying that the IOA had to abide by the Delhi High Court order." Chautala: "We have completed a free and fair election under three eminent retired high court justices. I want to reiterate that we have not done anything wrong by going ahead with the polls. We have to obey the law of the land." Bhanot, who was jailed and later released on bail for his alleged involvement in the Commonwealth Games corruption scandal, said that he would "quit from the post of IOA secretary general if he is proven guilty by the law of the land." Bhanot: "I have not been proven guilty. I will quit if I am proven guilty by the law of the land." Senior VP Virendra Nanavati and Treasurer N Ramachandran were respectively elected unopposed to their respective posts (PTI, 12/5).
'DEFIANT' INDIA: REUTERS' Chakraborty & Grohmann reported "defiant" Indian officials named Bhanot as the secretary general "after his rivals had pulled out." Bhanot spent 11 months in custody last year following corruption charges. The IOC has "dismissed the election outcome." IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said, "Those elections are null and void, they don't count. They can go ahead with them, but they won't have any validity. We have to regain our confidence that the Indian Olympic Association is acting independently of government and that the government is not interfering. At the moment, the IOC is not satisfied that this is the case" (REUTERS, 12/5). The PTI reported IOA Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said that he "does not have the mandate or the jurisdiction to interfere in the matter, but will still try to engage with the IOC to get the ban reversed." Jitendra Singh: "I will once again talk to the IOC and write to them that let’s talk about solving this problem for the future of Indian sportspersons. The government will take every step, and we are willing to mediate. In the next few days I will also talk to sportspersons on the matter" (PTI, 12/5).
''HUGE EMBARRASSMENT'': The PTI also reported the IOC in its suspension letter to the IOA "made it clear the national sports body would remain suspended until it was in a position to satisfy all the conditions set out in the Olympic Charter and IOC’s requirements." The requirements included "to guarantee its full autonomy; to ensure free and fair elections in conformity with its own statutes and the Olympic Charter; and to implement all basic principles of ethics and good governance in its daily management" (PTI, 12/5). The PTI also reported Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley described the suspension as a "huge embarrassment." Jaitley asked the government and IOA to "display sportsmanship to resolve the crisis." Jaitley: "We believe that government and the IOA have to display an element of sportsmanship so that Indian sport can be safe. It's a huge national and international embarrassment" (PTI, 12/5).
ATHLETES HOPE FOR CHANGE: REUTERS' Chakraborty wrote Indian athletes have "lamented the ban dished out" by the IOC. The ban means an "effective end to funding from the IOC, no Indian officials attending Olympic meetings and Indian athletes banned from competing at the Olympics under their country's flag." Shooter Joydeep Karmakar said, "This is unfortunate. As a sportsperson, I feel like I have been orphaned." Former double trap shooter Moraad Ali Khan said, "Standing on the podium with the national anthem being played and the nation's flag unfurled, it's a different feeling altogether and it has been taken away from Indian athletes. But when medicine doesn't work, what do you do? You go for surgery and we had reached that stage" (REUTERS, 12/5).
UAE National Olympic Committee Finance Dir Abdulrahman Falaknaz said that Dubai will bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics "as soon as an expected go-ahead from the government comes through," according to Andy Mitten of THE NATIONAL. Falaknaz said, "Our bidding has started already. The UAE has the infrastructure, capability, manpower and know-how to host such events. There is pressure on cities when they host huge events like the Olympics, but Dubai and the UAE can take it." A Dubai Olympics would make history as "no city from the Middle East or the Muslim world" has hosted the event. Falaknaz revealed that representatives from Dubai have been "consulting senior figures from past host cities of the biggest event in sports." Bidding for the 2024 Games will start in '15, with the winners announced by the IOC in '17. Eighteen cities are thought to be preparing a bid for '24, including Paris, Berlin, Rome, St. Petersburg, Toronto, Guadalajara, Dallas, Los Angeles, Nairobi, Casablanca, Durban and Taipei City. Asked about the prospect of the Olympics being awarded to a wider region, Falaknaz said, "It could be better because the expenses would be divided. The expenses for the Olympic Games are more than the revenues, especially with the security costs" (THE NATIONAL, 12/5).
The U.K. government's spending watchdog has “hailed” the $14.5B of public money spent on the London Games “as good value, but said strong leadership is needed if promised legacy benefits are to be realized,” according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The National Audit Office said, "By any reasonable measure the Games were a success, and the big picture is that they have delivered value for money." The NAO report hailed Olympic Creative Dir Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony “as a great success.” The report said that the “final bill for the ceremonies, including money allocated to the separate unit formed to cover transport, catering and logistics,” was $177M. It found that the final investment in the Games involved around $1.6B of operational costs, encompassing $827M “for venue security, that were not included" in the original '07 $15B public sector spending package. The NAO highlighted the “lack of planning on venue security … as the only example of poor forward planning” (GUARDIAN, 12/5). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported "the NAO found fault with an initial underestimate of how much public money was needed, and the failure of private contractor G4S to supply enough security guards, which meant British troops had to be drafted in just before the Olympics." However, its report was "generally positive." The NAO said, "Crucially, the Games passed off without major transport disruption or security incident. The scale of the construction program and the fact that it was completed on time and within budget is impressive" (REUTERS, 12/5).
The IOC revealed four 2004 Athens Olympic medalists, including Ukraine's shot put champion Yuriy Bilonog, have been "stripped of their medals after retested samples from eight years ago were positive." The other athletes are Russian shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova, Belarus discus thrower Irina Yatchenko, who both won bronze medals in their disciplines and Belarussian hammer thrower Ivan Tsikhan, who lost his silver medal. A case involving a fifth unnamed athlete is still pending (REUTERS, 12/6). ... Naturalized Malaysian Huang Qiang is "not going anywhere" as far as the National Sports Council is concerned. NSC Dir General Seri Zolkples Embong said that an extension is "on the cards" for Huang, whose contract ends on Dec. 31 (THE STAR, 12/5).