New Delhi: The International Olympic Committee has made it clear that the Indian government cannot interfere in the internal matters of the IOA through a legislation and has advised the national apex sports body to ensure that the proposed law does not infringe its autonomy.

In its "general" opinion on the Draft Sports Legislation, which the Sports Minister Ajay Maken plans to introduce in the coming Monsoon Session of the Parliament, the IOC said that the government cannot force National Olympic Committees to adopt "mandatory provisions" but can only make suggestions and recommendations.

"The Government Authorities may make suggestions and recommendations to assist sports organisations in their internal matters and internal governance, if need be, howevercannot force them (by law) to adopt standard mandatory provisions which are unilaterally decided and imposed by the Government Authorities," a letter written by NOC Relations Director Pere Miro to IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh said.

"All internal operations and procedures in force within the NOC (and the NFs) including in particular the membership, eligibility conditions for members, decision-making mechanisms, election procedures, eligibility conditions for officers and office-bearers, etc. must be determined exclusively by these sports organisations in the framework of their respective statutes and the rules of the corresponding international sports authorities," it said.

The IOC letter did not comment on the specific issues contained in the draft legislation, including controversial age and tenure limitation provisions, but advised the IOA to work with the government in a "constructive" manner as far as its autonomy is not infringed.

"IOC requests that your NOC does the necessary with the relevant Government and public Authorities of India in order to make sure the new sports legislation will not breach these basic principles and will allow the NOC and the NFs to operate in accordance with rules of their respective international sports authorities within the Olympic Movement," the IOC said in response to IOA's request for its opinion on the draft legislation.

"We kindly ask you to approach the relevant Government Authorities in India and work together with them in a coordinated and constructive manner in order to make sure that
the basic principles mentioned in the attached documents are observed and that each one's responsibilities and prerogatives are mutually respected. We hope this will be of help and we remain at your entire disposal," the letter said.

Apart from outlining the basic principles of Olympic Charter with focus on autonomy, the letter also mentioned how a particular NOC can be suspended or derecognised by the IOC.

"Apart from the measures and sanctions provided in the case of infringement of Olympic Charter, IOC Executive Board may take any appropriate decisions for protection of Olympic
Movement in the country of an NOC, including suspension of or withdrawal of recognition from such NOC if the constitution, law or other regulations in force in the country concerned, or any act by any governmental or other body causes the activity of the NOC or the making or expression of its will to be hampered.

"The IOC Executive Board shall offer such NOC an opportunity to be heard before any such decision is taken," the letter said while reproducing one of the articles of Olympic Charter."
The letter also said that eligibility conditions for recognition of an NOC are determined exclusively by the IOC - and not by Government Authorities - as provided in the Olympic Charter.

"It is well understood an NOC shall be administratively registered in its country according to laws and regulations in force in its country. But this administrative step must not go against the fundamental principle mentioned above that the recognition of an NOC in a country is, primarily, derived from the IOC.

"The NOC (and the NFs) shall not be treated as 'public authorities', which they are not. These organisations must enjoy the status of private entities which are legally independent.

It is true these national sports organizations may somehow perform public functions and benefit wholly or partly from Government (public) funding, in which case they shall logically be accountable to the Government for those specific functions or funds they may receive.

"For transparency reasons, it is recommended that they share all necessary information (activities and financial reports etc.) with the Government and other partners, in a constructive manner, however this is not an obligation and this cannot be imposed by law.

"In the same approach, the NOC (and the NFs) may decide, at their discretion, to invite observers from Government at their meetings, however the Government cannot impose the
presence of such observers if they are not freely invited."

(Agencies)