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Volume 6 No. 193


The suspended Indian Olympic Association on Sunday refused to incorporate the "contentious" IOC-proposed clause "that would have barred chargesheeted individuals from holding any post and suggested an alternative that would affect only convicted officials," according to the PTI. While the IOA accepted most of the suggestions, including that of age and tenure made by the IOC in its proposed draft constitution, "there was no consensus on the IOC's proposed clause that no chargesheeted person should be allowed to hold office and contest an election." What the IOA proposed to the IOC was that a convicted official, who has been given a sentence of two years and above, "will be automatically rejected." If the sentence is less than two years "then it should be left to the discretion of IOA's ethics commission (PTI, 8/25). The PTI also reported the IOA "will now have to wait for IOC's decision on the amendments passed on Sunday before the elections proposed to be held on September 29 to pave the way for India's return to the Olympic fold." Regarding the age and tenure rules, meeting Chair S. Reghunathan said, "The age rule applied to the IOC members will apply to IOA also. And we have accepted the tenure rules proposed by the IOC but will apply to only to three office bearers namely president, secretary general and treasurer." The IOA also decided to prune down the number of exec council members from existing 39 to 29 while the president can nominate 10 exec committee members "who will not have voting rights" (PTI, 8/25).

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: IANS reported IOC observer Francisco Elizalde said he was "not 100 percent happy" with the suspended IOA, at its meeting, rejecting the clause relating to barring chargesheeted officials from holding post or running for office. Elizalde, the 81-year-old Filipino, who is also a member of the IOC ethics commission said, "The sanctions against those who are chargesheeted, as proposed by the IOC, was not accepted. So I am not 100 percent happy if you go by the book." Elizalde "remained non-committal" when asked if India, which was suspended last year by the IOC, can soon return to the Olympic fold. Elizalde: "I cannot commit myself. But what I can say is that chances are improving" (IANS, 8/25). The PTI reported acting IOA CEO V. K. Malhotra on Sunday said that he did not attend the special general body meeting of the IOA "as he was not involved in the May 15 Lausanne meeting between the IOC and Indian officials" (PTI, 8/25).

GUN BATTLE: IANS reported the National Rifle Association of India "was barred from attending" the general body meeting of the suspended IOA. The NRAI is fighting a legal battle in Delhi High Court "which ruled the sporting body's elections held April 6 as null and void" (IANS, 8/25).

Russia President Vladimir Putin "has signed a decree creating a special security 'prohibited area' designed to thwart terrorist attacks but also deter political rallies" for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to Charles Clover of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The decree will take effect on Jan. 7 and remain until March 21, and "apply to the city of Sochi and the region around it, creating what one human rights expert called a 'special operations zone' in Sochi." Human Rights Watch Deputy Dir Tanya Lokshina said, "It is normal for cities hosting the Olympics to have special security programs but this one looks quite dramatic. These are similar to a counter insurgency operation." The wording of the decree "is very broad," preventing not just "the sale of explosive materials" at the Games but also "gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets" that are not related to the Olympics (FT, 8/23). In N.Y., Paul Sonne reported the executive order published Friday "isn’t the first Russian regulation to tamp down on public demonstrations." Russia’s Parliament "introduced new restrictions on public gatherings in June 2012, stepping up punishments for unauthorized rallies just a few months after mass demonstrations against Putin’s rule swept Moscow." Friday’s order creates a so-called “forbidden zone” -- to which only "authorized personnel and vehicles will be allowed access -- that stretches for miles around the Black Sea resort city." It also "prescribes special 'antiterrorist protection measures' for potential targets in and around Sochi, restricts both the airspace and the water area around the Olympic Park, limits vehicle traffic and provides for 'specially equipped checkpoints for the examination of individuals' to be installed at the site" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/23).

'DRACONIAN' LAW: REUTERS reported that human rights activists said that "the restrictions were draconian." Legal aid group AGORA Chair Pavel Chikov said that barring cars from outside Sochi "restricts Russians' freedom of movement and the ban on most public gatherings violates their constitutional right to free assembly" (REUTERS, 8/24). The AP's Nataliya Vasilyeva reported rights organizations "have voiced concerns about what they described as the 'harassment and intimidation of civil society' advocates in Sochi." Human Rights Watch said in a statement environmental, human rights and other activists have been "the targets of attacks, detention for peaceful protests and police searches" (AP, 8/24).

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose said that radiation levels in Tokyo "are no different from those of other major world cities and the worsening crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant should have no impact on the city's bid to host the 2020 Olympics." Inose said that he was confident the problem would be resolved, citing promises from Japan PM Shinzo Abe that "the government as a whole will take a proactive role" (REUTERS, 8/23). ... Taiwainese IOC presidential candidate Wu Ching-kuo said that "the age limit for athletes who compete in the Youth Olympic Games should be lowered to 16 years old so that they can be distinct from the traditional Games." Under the current regulations, the age limit for athletes competing at the Youth Games is 14-18, "which allows many athletes who have already participated in the traditional Games to qualify to compete in the Youth Games" (CNA, 8/25). ... Swimming Australia's "Stilnox six" have escaped any further punishment from the Australian Olympic Committee for their behavior at the London 2012 Olympics, "but have been warned that any further breach of conduct could render them ineligible for the Rio 2016 Olympics" (ABC, 8/23).