All-important meeting with IOC on June 19 to avoid suspension : POA General Council endorses OCA bans on five officials

* Contingents for Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Youth Olympic Games finalised

LAHORE: The General Council of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) Pakistan, headed by Lt Gen (r) Syed Arif Hasan, on Sunday endorsed the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) bans on five officials of the national sports federations for their unconstitutional and unlawful activities. “The Pakistan Olympic Committee (POA) comes under the OCA and the IOC and we have to follow them,” Arif told media after the General Council meeting at Pearl Continental Hotel here. 
These officials - Mohammad Akram Sahi (Athletics), Zaffar Abbas Lak (Volleyball), Khawaja Farooq Saeed (Gymnastics), Major (r) Muhammad Afzal (Volleyball) and Senator Ghulam Ali (Netball) - were banned by the OCA last year from taking part in any activity under the ambit of the supreme continental sporting body for harming the Olympic Movement, formation of an illegal Olympic parallel body, which was an unprecedented act, total disregard for the International Olympic Council (IOC) and the OCA instructions and finally forcefully occupying the office of the legitimate and international recognised National Olympic Committee. No doubt their acts put Pakistan to shame.
The POA emergent meeting had main two-point agenda: to apprise the General Council of the stand taken in the upcoming meeting with the IOC on June 19 to avoid possible suspension of Pakistan, and to finalise the contingents for the Commonwealth Games from July 23 to 3 August in Glasgow, Scotland, Youth Summer Olympic Games from August 16-28 in Nanjing, China and Asian Games from September 19 to October 4 in Incheon, South Korea. “I am quite hopeful that the meeting with the IOC on June 19 will be fruitful and all the thorny issues will be resolved in an amicable manner,” maintained Arif. It is instructive to note that the IOC has convened a meeting at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland and has invited POA president Arif, federal secretary sports Chaudhry Ijaz and IOC member in Pakistan Syed Shahid Ali, providing last chance to the Pakistan Government to avoid suspension. Earlier the all-important meeting was scheduled to be held on May 21 but was deferred on the request of the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), which sought more time for receiving Swiss visa, and for preparing itself for the crucial meeting.
It is pertinent mention here that the main dispute between the Government and the IOC is on one of the clauses of the National Sports Policy 2005 under which no national sports federation president, secretary and treasurer can have more than two tenures. The IOC says that it is the prerogative of the General Council of every sports unit to decide the number of terms and the Government should not interfere since it is against the IOC Charter. The Government wants the POA to follow the National Sports Policy. But POA chief Arif, who won a third term in 2012, has refused to follow the directives, saying the POA is an autonomous body that will only follow IOC Charter and Rules. It is no secret that the IOC does not tolerate any Government interference in working of its member country as is evident from the attempts by the Indian Government to dictate terms to the IOC which resulted in India’s suspension. Nevertheless, the Pakistan Government has not only been violating the IOC Charter, it has also raised its own POA headed by retired Major General Akram Sahi, opposing the IOC-recognised POA led by retired Arif.
Arif said the POA General Council had given approval to the Pakistan contingents for the upcoming international mega events. “For the Glasgow Commonwealth Games the number of athletes is 72, for Summer Youth Olympics the number of athletes is 19 and for the Incheon Asian Games the Pakistan contingent will comprise of 300 athletes.” He said athletes from the contingents can be dropped but more athletes can not be added to the squads. To a question, Arif said the POA had sent entries for Pakistan hockey for the Youth Olympics and the Asian Games. “Pakistan hockey will take part in both mega events.” He said the POA had also written to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to start training camps for different sports so that national athletes get good training before participating in the upcoming events. “The POA will provide some financial help and also get some from the PSB and some from the national federations for participation in the upcoming mega events,” he concluded.

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