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The Indian Olympic Association [IOA]

IOA is registered under provisions of the Societies Registration Act (“the Societies Act”). It is part of the Olympic movement, and the apex body for all sports bodies and federations in India. It ensures that decisions of the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) are observed; at the national level it promotes and safeguards the Olympic movement in India in accordance with the Olympic charter (“the Charter”). It also backs and encourages the spread of sports ethics, and fights against doping (drugging) and other obnoxious practices.

Some of its objects contained in its Constitution are relied upon; they are extracted below:

9. To have full and complete jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to the participation of India in the Olympic Games and other Games under the patronage of the IOC as well as the IOA.

10. To participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes and to constitute, organize and lead its delegation at the Olympic Games and at the regional, continental or world multi-sports competitions patronized by the IOC. It shall also ensure that the members of the delegation shall conduct themselves in a responsible and dignified manner at all such meets.

11. To undertake with the assistance of National Sports Federations the financing, management, transportation, maintenance and welfare of teams from India taking part in the Olympic Games and other Games under the patronage of the I.O.C. as well as I.O.A.

12. To certify the eligibility of competitors from India for such international competitions as require such certification.

In terms of its objectives IOA acts as the channel of communication between national Sports Federations and the Central Government for financial or other assistance (Clause 14); it has to, in terms of Clause 21 collaborate and help national Sports Federations (NSFs), State Olympic Associations and other sports bodies in the training of the sports administrators for the effective sports information dissemination in India. It is autonomous from the UOI or any State Government, in its functioning, activities or governance. Its members elect its office bearers, in accordance with its Constitution. It is answerable to its members in terms of its Constitution, and to the extent it fosters the Olympic spirit, and involves the athletes and other sports persons who participate in various Olympic games, it is bound by the decisions – and the Charter of the IOC. The IOA repeatedly underlines that it does not receive financial assistance, or any direct financial support from the Government and any other NSFs Federations. Most of the expenditure incurred by IOA is towards travel, boarding and lodging of sports persons, directly or through its agencies like Balmer Lawrie & Co., or the Sports Authority of India (“the Authority”). In fact, the major expense is for the salary of the Officers of SAI. No money given by the UOI for the day to day activities of the Federations/Associations. The petitioners support themselves through individual contribution, annual fee from members or sponsorship.

The world of international sports has a hierarchical structure whereby participation of a country’s team in any international event is governed by the concerned International Federation and participation in multi–disciplinary events is governed by the IOC. World Level Association/Federation/Bodies exist in every sport, which are affiliated to IOC. At the national level, there is IOA, corresponding to the International Olympic Committee. Its affiliating organizations are NSFs, one for every sport; these also affiliate to their respective World/Association/Federation/Body, and are recognized by them. In the absence of such affiliation or recognition, no player can compete in any international tournament or competition.

The Charter requires the NSF to be autonomous bodies. Hence, any mandate for interference with the autonomy is per se bad. The IOA and each national sports association are independently registered under the Act and are governed by their constitutions and bye-laws. They function in terms of their Constitutions. The NSFs, under IOC’s Charter are required to be autonomous bodies and the Act assures that autonomy. This arrangement is in keeping with the Charter, and necessary to safeguard the independence of sports in India.

IOA and all sporting federations are substantially funded by the UOI. Other assistance given includes national coach selection; availability of facilities developed by UOI agencies such as Sports Authority of India, financial assistance for acquisition of sports goods and materials; organization of programs etc, all show exclusive Union participation.