Filing of nominations for next week's elections of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) were closed today. And while the two Presidential candidates, Randhir Singh and Abhay Singh Chautala, have been making headlines for the last few days, the elections will also see the comeback of Lalit Bhanot in the IOA.
He had become the butt of all jokes when he made his famous remarks about difference in hygiene standards of Indians and other countries, in the build up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
"It is okay by our Indian standards, right? We think it is clean and hygienic. For other countries it may mean something different", the then treasurer of IOA and General Secretary of the Organising Committee of the 2010 Commonwealth Games had said.
Now in about a week's time, the man chargesheeted in the CWG scam, could well become the next Secretary General of the IOA, a promotion of sorts no doubt for him.
Bhanot has the backing of Presidential candidate Abhay Singh Chautala. The son of Haryana politician Om Prakash Chautala, who is the current Chairman of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, has the backing of most of India's major sports federations, namely badminton, tennis, wrestling and weightlifting, among others. He is tipped to be the favourite for the post of IOA President. There are allegations that the entire old disgraced order could be back. And essentially, Team Chautala could well just be another version of Team Kalmadi.
Fully backing Bhanot's participation in the IOA polls, Chautala said, "If there's a case pending in court doesn't mean you can't contest the elections. Lalit ji has a case pending in court, what the court decides, we can see later. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) can send as many observers as they want to oversee the polls. Who knows maybe they can even learn something from us". The IOC has sent repeated warnings to the the IOA about corrupt officials contesting the polls. But it's something that the IOA has ignored time and again. While the Ethics Commission of the IOC does not have the final power to decide the fate of officials like Bhanot, it can certainly get the needful done to dismiss the IOA from its scheme of things, and make it function in an ad-hoc manner, till it gets its house in order. Â
In fact the IOC has sent a strongly worded letter again today, saying the elections have to conducted as per the Olympic Charter. Chautala seems to think otherwise. He said, "If an election is conducted in India, it must be conducted according to Indian rules and regulations" .
The IOC banning India from participating in major events like the Olympics is of course an extreme and unlikely step. But this is what is unfortunate. This is supposedly a new chapter in sports and sports administration in India. And with 6 medals from the London Olympics, it would've been the perfect platform. But everything seems to be going down the same old path. And needless to say, it has left a bad taste in the mouth, ahead of next week's polls.