Khelo India athletes in IOA, Sports Ministry crossfire

Sports Reporter
Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Pune: Inherent friction between the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore came to the fore on Tuesday when the selected athletes from various sports disciplines under the Khelo India Talent Development Programme were outrightly rejected by the sports governing body.

Pune: Inherent friction between the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore came to the fore on Tuesday when the selected athletes from various sports disciplines under the Khelo India Talent Development Programme were outrightly rejected by the sports governing body.

IOA President Narinder Batra chose to share every email he received from Khelo India CEO, Sandip Pradhan, who is also the Deputy Director General of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), warning the Sports Ministry that too much interference could result in India getting suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Sports Ministry has been pushing for New Sports Code, which IOA has been opposed to.

In a letter to Sports Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar, Batra reminded of the IOA’s de-recognition six years ago following government’s interference in the sports bodies.

“The IOA was de-recognised by the IOC in 2012 and one of the reasons was interference by the government in the autonomy of the NOC and NSFs. It was recognised again only in 2014,” Batra stated in his letter.
On Tuesday, Khelo India CEO added more fuel to the fire when he listed selected athletes in fencing, weightlifting, kabaddi and gymnastics under the Khelo India Telent Development Programme.

Khelo India, the pet project of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, has been pushing athletes for selection to represent India at the respective age-group tournaments.

Batra wondered whether the athletes in the attached lists under Khelo India Talent Development Programme were selected by the selection committee of the NSF or by the Sports Authority of India approved selectors through Khelo India.

“If in all these cases respective National Sports Federations were not involved then we do not approve of this selection,” Batra, who is also the President of the International Hockey Federation, said in his response.
Batra reminded that in 2013, prior of IOC lifting India’s suspension, had agreed that there will be no interference in the affairs and autonomy of IOA and the NSFs and that all future changes in Sports Code or Sports Bill will be run on the lines of Olympic Movements and seek approval of the IOC.

“Now again this present Sports Ministry is heading towards a conflict which could again lead to de-recognition meaning India could be forced to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the Olympic Flag,” Batra said in his letter to Bhatnagar.

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