Dispute over upcoming Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections caused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban India Tuesday. The move not only invalidates the elections, which took place Wednesday, but also stops IOC funding to the country, and bans both officials and athletes from participation in the Olympics.
Before the IOC declared the elections null and void, Lalit Bhanot was poised to win an unchallenged contest for secretary general of the IOA. Bhanot spent 11 months in custody as a result of corruption that plagued the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Exacerbating the situation was IOC frustration that the IOA was acting more in accordance with the Indian government than with the international Olympic charter. Though Bhanot was elected, his election holds no weight with the IOC.
Athletes, who are hit hard by this move, have mixed reactions. Some are left feeling “orphaned” without a country flag to represent. “Playing under the national flag means a lot for us. Competing under the Olympic flag won’t give you the same feeling,” said Olympic shooter Joydeep Karmakar. But he, and others, recognize that this may be a necessary move. “Bye bye IOA, hope to see you again soon, hopefully cleaner!,” tweeted Beijing gold medalist shooter Abhinav Bindra after the decision.
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