IOC letter weakens government position

September 26, 2021

It will be difficult for the government to take any action against POA which goes against the Olympic Charter

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As was expected the International Olympic Committee (IOC) eventually has taken a serious note of the state-POA rift and in a letter issued to the NOC has objected to controversial clauses of the proposed national sports policy which is going to be approved in near future by the federal cabinet.The IOC has mentioned in its letter that “. . .the process that seems to have been initiated recently by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to establish government-controlled ‘electoral commissions’ to conduct the elections of the national sports federations and government-controlled ‘dispute resolution commissions’ to adjudicate disputes relating to national sports federations and to empower the Pakistan Sports Board to appoint ad-hoc committees within the national federations is not in line with the principles of responsible autonomy of the Olympic Movement. Therefore we can only support the resolution taken by the NOC General Assembly on May 3, 2021, to refuse any such proposals and any undue interference from government entities with the internal governance of the national sports federations which should be determined in their respective statutes in accordance with the rules of international sports federations (IFs) concerned.”

While fully backing the POA, the IOC has stated that “we wish to re-confirm that the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) continue to recognise your NOC leadership as elected by the NOC General Assembly on November 26, 2019, and will not accept any undue interference from any third parties in the internal governance of your NOC.

“We therefore sincerely trust that all parties can address these issues responsibly and in good faith with a view to resolving this situation amicably and peacefully in the framework of the Olympic Charter so as to avoid any unnecessary escalation.”

The IOC has also urged the POA to continue its efforts and meet all state authorities concerned as soon as possible in order to find an appropriate solution with a view to ensuring full respect for the fundamental principles of autonomy of the Olympic movement in Pakistan by developing harmonious relations and constructive partnerships between the state authorities, NOC and national federations in the interest of sports and the athletes.

The IOC has said it is unfortunate that the issues addressed a few years ago have resurfaced.

The IOC also mentioned that a ruling was issued in 2019 by Pakistan’s apex court to confirm once and for all that POA was a legally independent and non-governmental entity. The IOC says that this was a decisive milestone for the recognition and protection of autonomy of POA and for the whole Olympic movement in Pakistan.

In the wake of the demand that the POA chief resign, the IOC has stated that “the pressure that is being exerted on your elected office-bearers to resign due to the results of the teams at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, also goes against the above-mentioned principles”.

The IOC has clarified that the POA General Assembly is the only governing body that is entitled to elect or dismiss the members of the POA Executive Board in accordance with the POA’s statutes and the Olympic Charter.

Following such a clear stand from the world’s most powerful sports body it will now be difficult for the Pakistan government to take any action which goes against the Olympic Charter. I firmly believe that the Pakistan government will have to remove the controversial clauses from the proposed national sports policy on which the IOC has shown reservations.

Ignoring the IOC Charter is impossible. So state authorities should avoid creating a mess which will eventually make our athletes suffer. The national sports policy should have been made with consensus.

The IOC has stressed that cordial relations between the government, NOC and national federations are necessary for sports and athletes development. Why don’t we understand these things? Leave enmity aside, address the issues with consensus and go forward as any confrontation will lead us only to a sports disaster.

We have many major events next year and we should focus on them instead of creating a big mess once again. National federations should not be prevented from going for their elections which in some cases are due. Prioritise a few sports disciplines, invest in them and then check the performances. Those federations which fail despite huge investment can be dropped from the priority list and the next in line can be promoted.

The responsibilities of each sports entity are already defined and each body should work responsibly for the sports development. Hope we will avoid confrontation and address our issues through dialogue and mutual understanding. My two-decade long experience in sports coverage tells me that confrontation will benefit no one.

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