NEW DELHI: There was an element of surprise when the President and Vice President of the Indian Olympic AssociationThe Athletes’ Commission (IOA) was elected here on Tuesday. It was widely expected that Narang Gagan and PV Sindhu would hold the top two positions. In place, Mary Kom was elected president and Ashanta Sharath Kamal as Vice Chairman of the Athletes’ Commission in an interesting turn of events. Narang and Sindhu were sent to IAOof the General Assembly with the right to vote as representatives of the Athletes’ Commission.
A 10-member Athletes’ Commission was selected without any votes on Monday after the meeting witnessed a mass withdrawal of athletes. Besides Mary, Sharath, Gagan and Sindhu, other elected members of the Athletes’ Commission included Mirabai Chanu, Rani Rampal, Bhavani Devi, Bajrang Lal, OP Karhana and Shiva Keshavan. The remaining six members are now seeking accommodation in one of the IOA’s committees such as ethics and adjudication, among others. Members of the Athletes’ Commission cannot run for office in the upcoming IOA elections to elect the new executive body on December 10.
“As President, my vision is to take Indian sports in the right direction and excel in various disciplines to achieve podiums in the Olympics. All my team members are experienced and it is all about sharing our ideas with each other to create a clean and transparent sports ecosystem,” Mary Kom told TOI.
While Mary Kom and Achanta will have voting rights in the Executive Council (EC), Gagan and Sindhu will have their votes counted in the General Assembly. The other members of the Athletes’ Commission will not have the right to vote. Likewise, the Athletes’ Commission will be responsible for selecting the eight “Athletes of Exceptional Merit” (SOM), who will have the right to vote at the General Assembly. Gagan, Sindhu and eight SOMs will vote in the elections. SOMs will be retired athletes, who should not have participated in any competitive sport for at least one year prior to the date of application.
“The Athletes’ Commission will be mandated to elect SOMs by November 19. But it is not for the commission to decide which SOM will compete for which office(s) in the election. SOM can submit nominations on their own to become IOA officials,” said Keshavan, a six-time Winter Olympian and four-time Asian champion.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Abhinav Bindra (member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission) and Sardar Singh (Member of the OCA Athletes’ Standing Committee) were co-opted into the Athletes’ Commission as ex-officio members. They along with Mirabai, Bhavani and Sindhu joined the meeting at JLN Stadium remotely.



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