New Delhi: India Tuesday was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) failure to hold independent elections.

The decision was taken at the IOC executive board committee meeting on the eve of the IOA elections. India now joins a dubious group of countries like Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan who have been suspended for varying periods.

The suspension means that IOA will now stop getting funds from the IOC and its officials and will be banned from attending Olympic meetings and events. Indian athletes will also be barred from taking part in Olympic events under their national flag but can take part under the Olympic flag.

IOA president Vijay Kumar Malhotra said the position is such that the IOA cannot go against the government, the court or the IOC.

“We can only now hope to create an atmosphere where all three come on the same page to find a solution,” he said.

According to a senior IOA officials, the election meeting, however, will go ahead as scheduled.

A section of IOA officials blamed it on Secretary General Randhir Singh, who is the sole IOC member from India.

Narinder Batra, president of Hockey India (HI), said it was Randhir, who motivated the IOC to take a harsh step.

Batra was a part of the two-member committee along with R.K.Anand to apprise the IOC on IOA’s stand. But the IOC refused to meet them.

“Vinod Tiwari, who is the international relations director of Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) updated about India’s position in today’s executive committee meeting of IOC. He was appointed by Randhir in the OCA. Now it is clear why India got suspended,” said Batra.

Randhir, however, said that he had warned the IOA earlier that it was staring at a suspension from the IOC.

“I have been warning the IOA. I repeatedly told them that we should carry the discussion with the government and the IOC. But people were not interested since they had their own agenda. For years I have been warning them,” said Randhir, who last week pulled out from the election from the post of president.

Randhir said it was high time to clear the IOA of some jokers.

“High time that the IOA is cleaned of some jokers. Then we can carry on. We have already ammended our constitution two or three times and that has got us into trouble. The IOC has been watching uis closely. We didn’t adhere to their guidelines,” he said.

Randhir said that the government and the IOC were ready to sit down with the IOA but some members in the IOA were more interested in going ahead with the election.

“When the IOC was saying don’t conduct the elections, we still didn’t abide by them. What would you expect the IOC to do. The Indian government also wanted to sit down with IOA and the IOC to sort out the problems,” he said.

Abhay Chautala, who remains the lone candidate for the post of IOA president in Wednesday’s election, said the it was a one-sided decision.

“The suspension is an ex-parte. Th two member committee wanted time to meet IOC. But they haven’t given time till now. This decision has been thrusted on us. I am still wondering why IOC took the decision. The elections are taking place according to the IOC charter, IOA constitution and the court’s order. We are still trying to meet the IOC and present our side,” he said.

Sports minister Jitendra Singh said the blame game should stop.

“Lets stop the blame game and take the corrective steps. Not because of few people let us not have a situation like. The government of India and the sports ministry is ready to sit own with the two parties. It is very simple, the IOA has to change the constitution and make it in accordance with the IOC charter. The time is not to point fingers at each other,” he said.

Source: IANS