India's Olympic suspension could be lifted in the next couple of months, claimed Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, insisting that the process to end the exile has already been set in motion by the IOC.
"The IOC has decided to pave way to lift ban on IOA. Indian sportspersons will be able to join Olympic movement. A roadmap has been drawn up with consultation with the delegates of National Sports Federations, the government, the IOA and the IOC," Jitendra said while addressing a press conference just after arriving home from Switzerland following a meeting with the IOC officials.
"As per Constitution of the IOA, a 30-day prior notice is required to call an Extraordinary General Meeting. I think the whole matter could be wrapped up in 60 days," he added.
Jitendra asserted that the controversial Sports Code was not diluted while drawing up the roadmap for India's return during his meeting with the IOC.
In a crucial meeting between Indian officials and the IOC in Lausanne yesterday, a roadmap was drawn up for India's return to the Olympic fold and Jitendra said the world body appreciated that the Code was more or less in conformity with the Olympic Charter.
"There was no relaxation on Sports Code. We discussed the Sports Code with the IOC which felt the Code was in conformity with the Olympic Charter except for the provisions relating to transparency and accountability in the functioning of sports bodies and Right to Information," he said.
"The government funds 40 to 70 per cent of the budget of the federations and it is taxpayers' money and we have to make sure that the money is spent well. The sports bodies will have to be accountable," he added.
He said that a new Sports Bill is being drafted and the government will consult the IOC while preparing the Bill. "The government is in process of drafting a new Sports Bill and during discussions it has been agreed that we will work along with the IOC in the proposed Bill. The first draft will be out by June 30," he said.
"There will be provisions for an independent Election Commission, dispute redressal mechanism and good governance in the Bill to be prepared under the chairmanship of retired Justice Mudgal," Jitendra said.
The minister said he had given a commitment to IOC chief Jacques Rogge that the government was not interested in interfering with the functioning of the sports bodies.
He said his ministry was only concerned about ensuring transparency, accountability and good governance in the IOA and the NSFs.
"The government had made the commitment that it had no intention to interfere in the internal workings of the NSFs. We respect freedom and autonomy of sports bodies. What we have told the IOC is that we want the principle of good governance, transparency and accountability to apply in the functioning of IOA and NSFs.
"The issues of ethics in their functioning and adherence to the age and tenure are being practised by the IOC itself," he said.
Asked who will call the Extraordinary GM of the IOA, Jitendra said, "There is a dedicated person in the IOC who will take care of how to go about it, whom to be communicated and when. This is for the IOC to decide. I am not the spokesperson of the IOC.
"How this will be done has been decided. There were legal persons of the IOC involved in the whole issue. The government will have no role in IOA's process (of calling Extraordinary GM and the election).
"We have requested the IOC to send an external observer to conduct the elections. I think the IOA will appoint one or two persons from among themselves and they will work along with a representative from the IOC in the interim period upto the holding of IOA elections," he said.
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