IOA asked to advance elections: Sports minister

New Delhi, Dec 13: Sports Minister Jitendra Singh Friday said he was happy with suspended Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) decision to bar charge-sheeted officials from running for office and requested the country’s apex sports body to advance its elections, set for Feb 9, so that Indian athletes can participate in the Sochi Winter Games under the tricolour.

Singh also said that the Sports Bill was nearing its completion and would be introduced soon.

“It’s good that IOA has decided to bar charge-sheeted officials from its elections. It is the right step forward and I assure everyone there would be no back door entry for anyone,” Singh told reporters on the sidelines of Olympic medallist M.C. Mary Kom’s book launch.

“This is a great development for Indian sports,” he added.

The minister said that he has asked IOA to move forward their elections, set for Feb 9, so that Indian athletes can participate in the Feb 7-23 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, under the Indian flag.

“We have requested the IOA to hold their elections by the end of January so that our athletes can take part in the Games under our national flag,” said Singh.

Singh also said that the government was in the process of putting the finishing touches to the Sports Bill and it would be introduced in Parliament soon.

“The government is working on a finalised Sports Bill. It is more or less finished and hopefully we will be able to introduce the bill soon. We want to ensure that sportspersons play a key role in administration of sports… that is why we will include an athletes commission in the bill,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mary Kom during the launch of her book – Unbreakable – said she was in no mood to retire and wants to achieve more for the country.

“I want to tell everyone that I’m not going to retire. I want to continue my career and achieve a lot more for the country,” she said.

The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist said she was taking time off after giving birth to her third child and would start preparations for Rio 2016 by the end of next year.

“I’m currently on a break. From next year Christmas or New Year, I will start practice for the Rio Olympics,” said Mary Kom.

IANS