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The ease with which the objections raised against the candidacy of K Murugan, who is contesting for the post of secretary general in the upcoming Indian Olympics Association elections, were withdrawn shows how politicians can use a set of guidelines to their advantage.
Murugan is over the 70-year cap of the sports code and thus his nomination was initially challenged by the rival camp, led by Abhay Singh Chautala. But even before the returning officer, Justice (Retd) VK Bali, could decide the Tamil Nadu Olympic Association official's fate, Chautala's aides went soft on him.
This was a classic tightrope walk by the Haryana politician's group. By not pushing the Murugan age issue, the group has successfully avoided a difficult situation. That's because if Murugan's candidature was rejected because of sports code violation, it could've been seen a case of "NOC failing to preserve autonomy". It could even see sanctions from IOC. It now appears that the sport code, in the context of the elections, has become a code of convenience.
IOA's acting chief VK Malhotra elections to the presidentship of the archery association is also an instance of throwing the government guidelines out of the window in the guise of complying with the Olympic Charter.
Similarly, Randhir Singh, who walked away from the IOA elections, saying he can't be a party to an election that violates the Olympic charter, is equally guilty. If following the code was a violation then why did he file his nomination and why did he seek clarification from the ministry regarding his candidature? While it remains to be seen what action will the IOC take if and when the elections are held, there seems to be no quick fix to this complicated muddle.
Vinayak is a principal correspondent based in New Delhi.
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