Govt open to relaxation of ‘VIP’ clause in National Sports Code

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NEW DELHI: Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday said the government is very much open to relaxing the clause in the proposed National Sports Code which bars Ministers, MPs and MLAs to be part of sports administration in the country.

Ahead of his first-ever formal meeting with officials of National Sports Federations (NSFs) and Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Rijiju said a Sports Code which is acceptable to all will be put in place by the government.

“We can’t single out any profession with regards to governance of the sport. It would be wrong to say that businessmen cannot take part in sports federations or politicians and officers cannot take part then who will run sport?” asked Rijiju.

“It is not about the profession it is about how suitable one is to run the sports federation. We cannot single out any person of any background. What is in the best interest of sport will be put in the Sports Code.”

Majority of the NSFs are against age cap (70 years) and tenure clause in the 2017 draft Sports Code, besides the clause which bars politicians and bureaucrats from holding office in IOA and NSFs.
Asked if a middle path could be found between all stakeholders, the minister said: “There is no middle path, we are together. I want a Sports Code which is universally acceptable, which is suitable for sports and won’t lead to any controversy.
“Why courts are intervening in sporting matters? If they are required to intervene it means there is a failure of sports mechanism. There will be no issue because all are on board whether it is IOA or NSFs. Sports Code will be reviewed with full consensus.”
Asked if IOA coming under the ambit of the Sports Code would amount to government interference, therefore risking its affiliation with the International Olympic Committee, Rijiju said: “There is something called sovereignty. Can anything function out of that?”

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