February 11, 2014: India is back in the Olympic fold with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lifting its 14-month ban in the wake of "free and fair elections" to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) two days ago.
The decision, by the IOC Executive Board (EB) at an ad-hoc meeting in Sochi, reinstated the IOA which kept tainted officials out of its elections.
Newly-elected IOA president N. Ramachandran told IANS from Chennai that he was delighted.
"I am extremely delighted that the IOC has lifted the ban. Now we have to work together to keep the IOA clean," Ramachandran told IANS.
The Executive Board took the decision following a report submitted by a three-member delegation, headed by Robin Mitchell, who were the observers at the IOA General Assembly here Sunday.
The IOC observers told the Executive Board members that the elections were held in full respect of the recently passed NOC (National Olympic Committee) constitution, which complies with all IOC requirements, including the clause that no person convicted or charge-framed can run for a position within the organisation.
It is the first time in Olympic history that a suspension of an NOC was been lifted during an Olympic Games, and the decision will have an immediate impact.
The three Indian athletes, who were competing under the IOC flag in the Sochi Winter Games (Feb 7-23), can now take part under the Indian flag. They took part in the Opening Ceremony under the Olympic flag and and have competed as Independent Olympic Participants. The Indian flag will also be raised at the Games Village in Sochi.
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh congratulated the IOA for getting back into the Olympic fold and expressed his happiness that the country's sportspersons will once again be able to contest under the tricolour.
"This is a great day for the country. As an Indian, I am thrilled and very, very happy. The Government of India congratulates the IOA, IOC, sportspersons and the people of the country who were involved in getting India back into the Olympic Movement. I am very happy that now our sportspersons will be able to contest under the Indian flag," Jitendra Singh told media at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) headquarters here.
"It's been a long journey of over a year when sportspersons and sports lovers have raised their concerns, the Government of India has raised its voice at Lausanne, and through other forums, for paving a way to get India back into the Olympic Movement," said the minister, who had led a government delegation to IOC headquarters in Lausanne last year.
The IOA was suspended in December 2012 after it failed to comply with the Olympic Charter and its statutes, relating specifically to good governance, during its controversial election process.
As a consequence of the ban, the IOA was no longer entitled to exercise any activity or right, including financial support, conferred upon it by the Olympic Charter or the IOC, since that date.
But in free and fair IOA elections held here Sunday, Ramachandran, who also heads the World Squash Federation (WSF), Rajeev Mehta and Anil Khanna, were unanimously elected the president, secretary general and treasurer, respectively.