Scam-tainted Lalit Bhanot's presence as the chief guest during the India-New Zealand match of the Hockey World League Final here on Saturday raised eyebrows, especially after the suspended IOA secretary-general is facing corruption charges related to the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. (New Zealand beat India 3-1)
To the surprise of many at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Bhanot was introduced as the chief guest to players from both sides as he shook hands with them before the mandatory national anthem ceremony.
Bhanot, despite his tainted image, was elected unopposed as the secretary general of the IOA. But the election was declared null and void by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who eventually suspended the IOA.
Bhanot, who spent nearly a year in jail last year in connection with the Commonwealth Games corruption case, was elected secretary general of the IOA along with Virendra Nanavati (senior vice-president) and N Ramachandran (treasurer) after the three-member IOA Election Commission, headed by Justice (retd) Anil Dev Singh, put up the final list of candidates.
However, the IOC refused to recognize the elections and subsequently banned India from the Olympic movement.
Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra refused to comment on Bhanot's presence.