FIH chief Batra elected unopposed as IOA President


Narinder Batra formally took over as the new president of the Indian Olympic Association after winning elections at the Annual General Meeting here on Thursday.

Batra received 143 of the 160 votes polled to elect the office-bearers for the next period of four years from 2018-22 while his rival Anil Khanna, honorary life president of the All India Tennis Federation, got 13.

Handball Federation of India’s Anandeshwar Pandey was elected as the treasurer after Rakesh Gupta withdrew and Mukesh Kumar of Judo Federation of India was rendered ineligible. Rajeev Mehta was re-elected unopposed as the secretary-general while R.K. Anand won to the lone senior vice-president post defeating Kabaddi Federation’s Janardhan Gahlot.

Khanna, who had already announced his decision to withdraw from the race but did so after the last date of withdrawal necessitating elections, was among the first to congratulate Batra, also the International Hockey Federation (FIH) president, for his victory.

Five federations — judo, gymnastics, taekwondo, winter games and archery —were disqualified from participating either because of recognition issues for their respective NSFs or the presence of a court-appointed administrator for the same.

Besides, Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) was also debarred because of rules that allow government bodies to be part of the IOA but without voting rights.

Batra spoke on several issues in his first interaction with the press. Excerpts:

On issues around Sports Code: It would be improper of me to comment on a matter in court but my understanding is that the code applies only to the NSFs not the IOA. That said, as far as I know, the IOA is in full compliance with the National Sports Code of 2013 since reworking its constitution, which has been approved by both the IOC and the government. Also we need to define a sportsperson, who can be anyone having played at a certain level, not just those who have represented India. I would think about 68% of our EC members fulfil the criterion.

On working relations with the government: We need to work on our relations with the government, how they can improve. They should understand us, we must understand their points and work together. The attitude is to work in a cordial environment but the government should also understand that there is a certain autonomy and independence for the NSFs. There is a very thin line and I hope we both work within our restrictions and limits.

On India hosting major competitions: I personally believe we should bid for the big events and I am aiming at India hosting the Asian Games in 2026, the CWG in 2030 and the Olympics in 2032.

On bilateral series in any sport with Pakistan: I have always held the view that in international competitions we cannot boycott any team because that will only have repercussions for us. As far as bilateral or trilateral series are concerned, this is my personal view that it is an absolute no unless the relations improve and they improve their behaviour. I know certain sections believe sports and politics should not be mixed but this is my view.

The new IOA office-bearers: President: Dr. Narinder Batra; Senior vice-president: R.K. Anand; Secretary-General: Rajeev Mehta; Treasurer: Anandeshwar Pandey.