No consensus yet on revised Sports Code

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NEW DELHI: If one is hoping for Indian sports to become more professional and sports administrators to be more accountable, then the wait will get longer. The arduous exercise to end the so-called political patronage in the country’s sports administration has come to a naught with the sports ministry backing out from implementing the revised draft of the proposed national Sports Code.

The code, if implemented, would have barred ministers, parliamentarians, members of legislative assemblies (MLAs) and bureaucrats from taking up positions in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the national sports federations (NSFs).

On Friday, a meeting was held between the ministry officials, IOA’s top brass and NSF heads here to discuss and deliberate on the revised Code, issues concerning India’s preparation and aspiration for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and drawing a roadmap for a rich medal-haul at the 2024 Los Angeles and 2028 Paris Summer Games. However, the focus firmly remained on the revised Code and its contentious clauses as there had been a lot of grandstanding by the ministry, IOA and NSF officials ahead of the meet.

However, at the end of the detailed dialogue, sports minister Kiren Rijiju informed that the government was open to review the clause in the revised Code which bars ministers, MPs, MLAs and public servants to be part of sports administration and informed about forming an expert panel to look into the contentious issue. The government’s stand meant the IOA and NSFs emerged the clear victors in this imbroglio.
All the exercise undertaken by the government in 2015, when retd justice C K Mahajan-led committee revised the sports code 2011 and later Injeti Srnivas-led committee further studied the draft as part of the ‘Sports Code for Good Governance 2017’ has so far proved futile.
A new committee has again been proposed by the government, which will go into the modalities of the revised Code and propose changes to it, which in all probability would suit the IOA and NSFs’ style of functioning. For the time being, the original Sports Code of 2011 will form part of the country’s sports administration and will be used for future NSF elections.
“With regard to Sports Code, we have already taken a decision that this is a technical issue, this is an issue related to policy, so an expert committee will look into it at an appropriate time,” Rijiju said. “Along with the IOA, we will form an expert committee which will take a call but not now. I want a Sports Code which is universally acceptable. Why are courts 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.”

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