How do your evaluate your term as the president of the IOA?
I was elected to do a job and wanted to ensure that IOA delivers. We had a new team and it was important for us to learn quickly and I’m grateful my secretary Rajeev Mehta, treasurer Anil Khanna and other colleagues for their support. There were problems in hosting national-level multi-sport events but we conducted the National Games, South Asian Federation Games without any trouble. Though my critics say my PR wasn’t great, I was able to create good relation with International Olympic Committee and Olympics Council of Asia, which benefitted IOA a lot.
When you took over, IOA’s credibility was at its lowest. What were the basic challenges you faced?
IOA was serving a ban but it was lifted within two days after I took over. There were too many disputes and allegations against IOA. I think all those were not factually correct but we couldn’t do anything about it. It was important to restore credibility of the IOA and I took some tough decisions to resolve the matter. There were plenty of objections but I didn’t listen to anybody. Tough decisions were a must and I took those for the best interest of the IOA and I am paying a price for that today.
Making IOA financially independent was also a necessity…
Yes, since I come from a business family I know how to do it. We raised enough funds and sent the biggest contingent to the Rio Olympics without taking any financial aid from the government. There was great support from the corporates and I must say today IOA (financially) is in a much better position.
Disputes in the national federations are hampering India’s chances at the top level. Why there is no proper mechanism in place?
The only way you can stop it is by following the IOA constitution. If there is any dispute you must solve the issue internally and must avoid going to court. They must conduct national/state level championships and maintain clarity in their accounts. We can’t compromise with transparency.
Do you think the athletes in India get the respect they deserve? It’s time that sports administrators take a backseat and give importance to the Athletes. They are our assets and should be given top priority. Our athletes have great potential and they can win many more medals at the highest level. It’s also important to have gender equality and prize money should be same for male and female athletes.
You have been vocal about hosting international events in India. Why can’t we host the big events despite having great infrastructure? We can host any big event – be it Asian Games or the Olympics – but the government has to agree to bid. We have missed out on the next Asian Games and can only bid for 2032. The same applies for Olympics. You have to host big events to generate interest among the local athletes. Our athletes will never grow unless they perform against top players on their home turf. Cricket is the best example and we must learn from them.
Source : timesofindia