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Abhinav Bindra presents athletes’ perspective at IOC-IOA meet in Lausanne

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Bindra presents athletes' perspective during IOC-IOA meet in Lausanne

Indian Olympic gold medallist and retired sport shooter Abhinav Bindra was invited to the IOC-IOA meeting in Lausanne on 27 September, 2022.

Bindra was called upon to present the athletes’ perspective in discussing governance strategies for the IOA and resolving past issues. 

Bindra provided a five-fold summary of the athletes’ perspective after consulting with active and retired athletes who have taken part in various Olympic disciplines over the years. Before presenting his five-fold argument, he echoed the feeling of the majority of the nation, which is that India’s sporting development is on the right trajectory and that this is only the beginning of something big for Indian sports. 

Bindra’s submissions

The first of Bindra’s submissions came in the form of providing recognition to athletes and giving them a voice at the decision-making table. He argued for creating an athletes’ commission within the NOC which would help voice athletes’ opinions on decisions taken by the federation. The athletes’ representatives must be both male and female, and the majority ought to be elected, with some being chosen based on reasonable pre-decided criteria. He further stated that the athletes representation declaration must be included within the IOA constitution. 

His second prong was to limit the membership of the IOA. Bindra stressed on the fact that only Olympic/CWG/Asiad-concerned NSFs must be granted membership. Members who have duly complied with the Sports Code and the Olympic Charter and have an athletes commission must be allowed voting rights. He stated that individual membership must be open to eminent athletes, via which former Olympians would be able to join the fold. 

The third submission pertained to the precise definition of roles and structure within the IOA constitution. Bindra opined that the roles of the general body, ExCo, Commissions, Office Bearers and Committees must be defined and that no office bearer must be delegated responsibility from the general body. 

In line with structure and role, Bindra’s fourth point was about financial transparency and integrity. By being flexible, conducting audits, and ensuring public transparency, the IOA would win over the support and faith of the athletes in the system.

His final submission stressed on creating a dispute resolution system and ethics compliance. This would help in admitting athlete complaints and dealing with the same in a timely and cost-efficient manner. 

Time and again, Bindra reiterated the main stakeholders in this system: the athletes. However, it remains to be seen whether the suggestions put forth are adopted.

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