New Delhi, June 16:
There are clear indications of the senior office-bearers of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) pulling in different directions even on a crucial issue like bidding for the 2019 Asian Games.
On Monday, IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said he would ascertain the views of the IOA members through mail before deciding whether to bid for the Games or not.
This despite the fact IOA president N. Ramachandran did not show much interest in bidding for the Games, saying the IOA’s main concern should be to make the organisation financially sound, reducing its dependence on government funds.
But Mehta shot off a letter to all IOA members seeking approval whether to bid for the Games since not much time left to call a General Body Meeting. The deadline for submitting bids for the 2019 Asian Games is July 1.
Asked whether there are any differences between him and the president over hosting the 2019 Asian Games, Mehta said it is the House which has to take a call.
“I cannot comment on any differences between the president and the secretary general. It is the house which has to take a decision. So I had sent a letter to all the members of the IOA seeking their consent over email to bid for the 2019 Asian Games,” Mehta told IANS.
“There is no guarantee that the house will agree with me. It can be a no also. We have to wait for a week to get reply from all the members,” he added.
Some IOA members are clearly upset with the way the senior office-bearers are squabbling over the 2019 Asian Games when they should be addressing issues of training and selection of the Indian contingent for the Commonwealth Games, which is hardly a month away, and the Asian Games in September.
In the last one week, the president and secretary general have spoken in different ways.
“Whatever the IOA decision, it is for the government to decide whether the country could afford a mega event when the economy is in a bad shape,” a senior IOA member told IANS, not wanting to be identified.
The first signs of differences surfaced when Ramachandran decided to go and meet the new union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal taking along only the senior vice-president Virendra Nanavati and a couple of officials of the National Sports Federations (NSFs) close to him, ignoring secretary-general Rajeev Mehta and high-profile treasurer Anil Khanna.
Ramachnadran’s move has clearly showed a clevage raising questions why he did not take Mehta and Khanna with him when the two were present in the capital.
“Ideally, an IOA delegation with all office-bearers and senior members should have met the sports minister to discuss the various confronting the Olympic movement in the country, and, even if it a courtesy call, he should have presented a unified delegation before the minister,” another member, associated with the sports movement for over four decades, told IANS.
Secretary general of a national sports federation was angry that the IOA is not showing any interest in the two upcoming major games and are busy in their turf wars.
“The Commonwealth games are not even a month away and so far the kitting of the contingent has not been done. No one knows how the athletes are going to be measured for their trousers, shirts and blazers, it can’t be done overnight,” said the official of long standing.
India in 2007 lost the bid for hosting this year’s Asian Games to Incheon, South Korea. The 2019 Asian Games were originally awarded to Vietnam, who earlier this year pulled out as the hosts, citing financial constraints.
Indonesia also offered to host the Games. In fact, in November 2012, the Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi beat Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, in the race to host the Asian Games.