Saturday, December 7, 2013

Krackdown on Korruption!

The new president of the International Olympic Committee is warning the Indian Olympic Committee that if it doesn't get its act together, then Indian athletes may not be allowed to compete at the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in 2014 or the Summer Games in Rio in 2016.

Well, given that the IOC hasn't yanked sponsorship from Russia despite that nation's less-than-tolerant attitude towards gay men and women; given that it didn't tell Lebanese athletes to pack up and go home when they whined about having to see Jews when they practiced in London; given that it went ahead in 2008 and held the games at yet another nation which has a rather cavalier attitude about its citzens' and its neighbor's citizens right to life, let alone liberty and you can just forget about that pursuit of happiness; given that it allows participation by nations which are just as bad or worse, you have to wonder. Just what has India done that merits this kind of extreme threat?

It's selecting corrupt or potentially corrupt officials for its national Olympic committee. Specifically, it's selecting one particular official who served 10 months on corruption charges related to his role in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The Commonwealth Games are an athletic competition held by nations which were formerly part of the British Empire.

The IOC takes the position that any Indian national charged by the Indian police should not serve on India's Olympic organizing committee. The Indian committee counters that people who have been convicted of a crime and served more than a 2-year sentence shouldn't serve.

Neither position holds a lot of water; the IOC's idea that just being charged with a crime is enough to get you booted creates an onerous burden, especially since not every nation's government is against the idea of using its judiciary to implement public policy -- like shutting up people who criticize it. Their idea is to attempt to create an utterly squeaky-clean C├Žsar's wife of an organization in order to deflect the frequent charges of corruption within the IOC itself as well as different national organizations, but this plan relies on the idea that only those charged with crimes are guilty. It overlooks the possibility that those who haven't been charged may be just as corrupt, but they're a lot better at it and haven't been caught.

India's counter sounds good at the start, in that you should actually have to be convicted of something before being barred from service or removed from office, but that whole "served less than two years" makes it a little iffy, as though it's a standard designed to permit the one guy they really want. Tying the conviction to athletic or sporting-related cases might make more sense.

In any event, the staring contest will be resolved one way or the other, and the decidedly non-athletic seat warmers in suits will declare themselves to have abided by their principles and to have taken a stand.

The opinions of the Indian athletes, whose chance to represent their nation, neighbors and people on the world stage is riding on all of the gold-medal chest puffing amongst committees, will not be sought.

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