Indian Olympic Association's refusal for financial help raises eyebrows
New Delhi: The Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) decision not to take financial help from the government starting this financial year is a move towards autonomy, but there are fears that it might lead to a split in the sporting fraternity.
Even though leading federations seem to be happy with the decision and have been open to the idea of following with a similar shunning of government money, not all federations can afford to fund their sport themselves. “It will be a difficult decision for federations of several less popular sports. One has to wait and see whether all of them actually fall in line,” said a senior IOA official who did not want to be named.
The IOA and sports federations are reportedly looking to avoid coming under the scanner of the Right to Information Act (RTI) which the sports ministry has made mandatory for the IOA and all the federations as they are funded by the government.
In a letter dated March 31, IOA secretary general Randhir Singh wrote to the sports ministry: “The Indian Olympic Association would like to thank the Government of India for the financial support it has provided to the Indian team till now under the aegis of IOA.”
The move from Randhir followed a recent ‘annual recognition scheme’ under which sports federations were asked to furnish details in order to continue receiving funding from the government.
This was after a move by the government (following a Delhi High Court order) to bring all sports bodies costing the exchequer Rs10 lakh or more under the purview of the RTI.Though the money sanctioned to the IOA itself is not huge, money to the sports federations is routed through the body.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday claimed that avoiding obligations under the RTI was not the reason for its decision to refuse public funding.
“RTI has got nothing to do with our decision to desist from taking financial assistance from the govt. We are not avoiding public scrutiny. We have been transparent in our functioning and will continue to do so,” secretary general, Randhir Singh, clarified on Tuesday.
Randhir had written to the Sports Ministry on March 31 to inform it about the IOA’s decision.
Speaking to HT from Delhi, Randhir said the IOA had decided to guard its autonomy and allow the govt to use its funds to promote other bodies. “There are so many organizations that need government funding. Why should we take money from them if we can do without it?,” he said.
Asked how the IOA would raise funds for Indian contingents for mega events, Randhir said the International Olympic Council (IOC) and not the government paid for India’s participation in the Olympics. The IOC also gives annual grants, which the IOA plans to use for its activities. “For the Asian Games in China, all expenses will be subsidised and we will raise the necessary funds through sponsorship,” he said.
“The govt, through the Sports Authority of India, takes care of training of athletes and infrastructure. Now they will have more funds to do so,” he said.
Sources said the main reason for the IOA’s decision was the alleged interference by the Sports Ministry.
The ministry had recently issued guidelines for affiliation of national sports federations, making it mandatory for them to submit audited accounts every year and putting limitations on tenure of the honorary officials.