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SBD Global/February 12, 2014/Olympics

IOC Exec Board Lifts Indian Olympic Association's Suspension With Immediate Effect

The IOC Exec Board reinstated the Indian Olympic Association during an ad-hoc meeting in Sochi on Tuesday. The decision follows a report about the IOA's General Assembly and elections for a new board, which were successfully held on Sunday. It is the first time in Olympic history that a suspension of a National Olympic Committee has been lifted during a Games, and it will have an immediate impact. Indian athletes entered the Games under the Olympic flag during last Friday's Opening Ceremony and have competed as independent participants. This decision means they can now compete for India and walk behind their national flag at the Closing Ceremony on Feb. 23 (IOC). The AP reported there was a "special flag raising ceremony in the Olympic Village on Tuesday." India had been suspended in '12 for not holding elections according to its own constitution and for "electing tainted officials," notably President Abhay Chautala and Secretary General Lalit Bhatnot (AP, 2/11).

TOO LATE: The AP's Stephen Wilson reported the IOC's decision came too late to "help Shiva Keshavan, who had already finished competing in the luge, but he said some good could come out of the sanction." Keshavan: "I think all the athletes want to see change and want to see good governance" (AP, 2/11).

'GREAT NEWS': The BBC reported IOC member Randhir Singh "welcomed the decision and said it was 'great news for Indian sport.'" Singh: "It's time everyone understands that the Olympic charter is supreme. It is important that sport is run well and tainted officials are kept out in a country of 1.2 billion in which 40% is youth" (BBC, 2/11). REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann reported IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said that the IOC had "discussed the matter early on Tuesday and ruled that elections held on Sunday had fulfilled all criteria for the country's immediate reinstatement." Adams: "We observed the general assembly (on Sunday). We are happy with the changes" (REUTERS, 2/11). In London, Shaun Walker reported while India is "now back in the Olympics, there are no competitors for Abkhazia or South Ossetia, two breakaway regions that most of the world says are part of Georgia but Moscow has recognised as independent states since the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia." Nevertheless, the two presidents of the "separatist regions were both present" at the Opening Ceremony, which some Georgian politicians "described as 'provocation'" (GUARDIAN, 2/11).

EXILE OVER: The PTI reported former IOA President Vijay Kumar Malhotra on Tuesday "hailed the IOC's decision to lift the ban on India, saying the country should now focus on preparing for the Commonwealth and Asian Games scheduled later this year." Malhotra said, "I am happy that suspension is over and now Indian teams and players will take part in the International events under the national flag" (PTI, 2/11). The PTI reported in a separate piece Indian Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday that India's "14-month exile from the Olympic movement has come as a blessing in disguise as the hiatus forced the country to clean up the system." Jitendra: "In the last one year or so the sportspersons, sports lovers have raised their concerns and their voices. What we've been able to achieve in the last one year or so of exile is that a major step has been taken to clean up sports" (PTI, 2/11).
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