Sports minister Kiren Rijiju said on Friday it’s the job of the government and the sports ministry to frame a sports policy acceptable to all stakeholders, including the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and national sports federations (NSFs), and not the courts in India.
His comments came on a day when sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court on behalf of the ministry, informing the court about the ministry’s reservation to accepting the ‘Draft National Code for Good Governance in Sports 2017’, arguing that many provisions in the code “are likely to be taken as a direct affront on the autonomy and freedom of the IOA and NSFs” by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He argued that the IOC’s Olympic charter provides for autonomy to NOC and NSFs and that “there’s an imminent risk of depriving Indian athletes of competing under Indian banner in Tokyo Olympics and other international sport competitions if the code is mandated in the present form”.
Rijiju said the ministry has rejected the 2017 code and that the draft is not conducive for the “promotion of sports” in the country. “The ministry hasn’t accepted the draft, it’s simple. The court will not decide what the code should look like. There was a court notice to the ministry, so we were bound to tell the court (about the ministry’s stand). India’s sports policy will be framed by the government and not the court,” Rijiju told TOI.
While rejecting the code, the ministry informed the court that the code wasn’t found in sync with India’s international obligations and national sports policy. “The code doesn’t meet the present requirements as well as future aspirations of Indian sport. The ministry examined the code in the context of the national sports policy, India’s international commitments, present stage of development of different disciplines of sports and available sports infrastructure. The code fails to provide for strategies and means to move sports bodies, state governments and private investments towards attaining the twin objectives of spreading the culture of sport and excellence in sports,” the affidavit stated.
There’s a wide impression that the ministry is resisting implementing the 2017 code in order to make the revised version more conducive to the functioning of the Indian cricket board (BCCI). There’s a view that the government may dilute current provisions concerning the tenure and cooling-off period in the code to give a longer rope to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and its secretary Jay Shah, both of whose tenures end in July 2020.
Rijiju rejected the charge. “Why bring the BCCI into picture? Cricket is not an Olympic sport. I am not giving any attention to the BCCI as far as the code is concerned. If cricket is a sport, then all sports in India will have to follow the code. But to say the code (dilution) is linked to the BCCI is absolutely wrong.”