Olympic ban on India stays; government backs International Olympic Committee

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Olympic ban on India stays; government backs International Olympic Committee
New Delhi:  In a big setback for Indian athletes, the International Olympic Committee or IOC has decided that India will remain suspended from the international Olympic movement. Till this ban, imposed in December last year, is revoked, Indian athletes will not be able to compete under the tricolour in any Olympic-sponsored event. And if they win gold, the national anthem will not be played.
Here are 10 big developments in this big story:
  1. The IOC is clear that it will only revoke the ban when the India Olympic Association ensures that it has no office-bearer who faces charges in a criminal or corruption case and amends its constitution to ensure such people cannot contest its elections.
  2. The Indian association has so far refused to oblige. Its secretary-general Lalit Bhanot faces corruption charges in a 2010 Commonwealth Games-related case. India was banned in December 2012 after Mr Bhanot was elected.
  3. The Indian government has backed the International Olympic Committee with Sports Minister Jitendra Singh saying he was disappointed that the Indian body had not modified its constitution. "It is really very unfortunate that some personal interests took precedence over the interests of the nation and interests of the sportspersons," Mr Singh said.
  4. At the Youth Asian Games in China last month, the Indian contingent marched under the Olympic Council of Asia flag at the opening ceremony. They were introduced as independent Olympic athletes.
  5. The Indians won 14 medals - three gold, four silver and seven bronze. As each of the young Indian gold medalists took the podium, the national anthem did not play.
  6. At a meeting in Argentina yesterday, the IOC, while confirming the ban, said it has been trying to help the Indian sporting body to "improve good governance" and has provided it with a roadmap.
  7. It noted that it had sent observers to the IOA's general assembly on August 25, where most of the changes it had requested in the IOA's constitution were accepted. But the clause that deals specifically with the eligibility of members was not, it said in a statement, adding that this clause "needs to be fully accepted before the suspended IOA can proceed with the elections."
  8. The Indian body's best compromise offer so far is that it will debar people who are convicted and sentenced to a jail term of more than two years from contesting election. Lalit Bhanot is out on bail after spending almost a year in jail.
  9. Indian sportspersons, who are the worst hit, have said the ban is a shame. Olympian Abhinav Bindra had said last year, "It just re-iterates the fact that the athlete is the last person on the agenda in India."
  10. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February next year is the next tournament where Indian athletes will have to participate as independent sportspersons. In September 2014, the Asian Games will be held in Incheon, South Korea.

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