POSTED: December 4th 2013
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NEIL WILSON: IOC to show its muscle


THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The International Olympic Committee’s executive board’s early Christmas present next week to the world’s second most populous nation may be to boot it people out of the Olympic movement.

At a stroke, one in six members of the human race would be deprived of the right not only to compete in Olympic Games but in all sporting contests allied to it. Like the Asian Games and most world championships.

India is suspended already by the IOC. That means its people can compete only as ‘independents’ under an IOC flag.

Originally that was because the IOC would not countenance political interference in the running of the Indian Olympic Association. Now, because the IOA refuses still to comply with the IOC’s ethical rulings, it faces ‘de-recognition’, the ultimate sanction.

The IOA has called a meeting next Sunday (December 8) to decide whether to save itself by complying with Lausanne’s ruling. That will determine whether the Executive Board takes the ultimate step the next day.

The IOC has shown itself willing to exercise its power over political interference in the recent past. Since 2010 both Kuwait and Ghana have been suspended and pardoned only when they made the changes in their constitutions that the IOC demanded.

But to de-recognize a country would be a step not taken since the days when South Africa was ejected five decades ago because of its government’s policy of separate development of the races, known as apartheid.

Yet de-recognition may be a timely show of muscle by the IOC. It is facing the possibility of a future conflict that will test its resolve to a far greater degree from Russia, a nation far smaller in population but infinitely greater in political weight.

Russia has committed no crime as yet but it is about to set the scene for a crime. Its Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, a man of Cabinet rank in the government, has tabled an amendment to federal law which will give him the power to appoint the heads of almost every Olympic sport in Russia.

If that is not political interference in Olympic sport as contained in the Olympic Charter, nothing much is. And it flies in the face of a statement by Russian president Vladimir Putin last year at a time of a potential boycott of Euro 2012 host Ukraine.

He said: “I believe by no means should politics, business and other such issues be mixed up with sports.”

Now his own government is making it possible for it to do just that and just a couple of months before Putin, Mutko and the Russian nation play hosts to the IOC’s premium event, the Olympic Games.

It may well be that Mutko does not take advantage of his amendment before the five-ring circus leaves town in Sochi. So that issue for the IOC may not be immediate. But the issue with India has bubbled for more than two years before reaching boiling point this month.

Could it be that both India and Russia may be sitting out Rio? 

NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.


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