The IOC warns Indian officials and puts the Olympic meeting in danger


GENEVA — Indian Olympic officials received a final warning from the IOC on Thursday and said their hosting of the organization’s annual meeting in Mumbai next year was postponed and could still be cancelled.

The International Olympic Committee cited “ongoing internal conflicts, governance shortcomings and ongoing lawsuits,” including the Indian Olympic body’s failure to hold elections scheduled for last December.

The IOC has said its so-called session – an annual gathering of around 100 individual members, including Indian billionaire Nita Ambani – which was due to be held in Mumbai next May, has now been postponed until at least September.

The meeting, which will be held at a conference center owned by the Ambani family, aims to showcase India’s Olympic ambitions, including hosting the Summer Games in 2036.

A key decision expected to be made in the 2023 session – whether in Mumbai or elsewhere if India’s problems are not resolved – confirms the host of the 2030 Winter Games.

Sapporo in Japan is one of the main candidates who will be chosen in December by the IOC’s Executive Board as the preferred candidate for 2030 with exclusive negotiating rights. Salt Lake City, Utah, and Vancouver, Canada, are also preparing offers. The three cities have already hosted Winter Games.

A delegation of Indian officials will meet the IOC in Lausanne later this month for talks to avoid any sanctions.

The IOC said it would “consider the immediate suspension” of the Indian Olympic Committee at its December board meeting if no solution was found. If the suspension is enforced, the next session will be moved from Mumbai – although that embarrassing outcome seems unlikely at this stage.

The IOC recalled that India was suspended from the Olympic movement “for similar reasons between 2012 and 2014”.

The postponed IOC meeting also delayed decisions on which sports – which ones are at risk of losing their berths and which ones are looking to make their Olympic Games debut – will be included in the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

Boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting were last year forgot the initial list of sports and given until the IOC Members meeting in 2023 to resolve governance issues.

The International Boxing Association is holding a new presidential election on September 25 in Armenia, and the IOC has long expressed its concerns to incumbent President Umar Kremlev of Russia. The IOC has published a letter written on Thursday to IBA which reaffirmed unease over financial dependence on Russian state energy company Gazprom.

Asked at a press conference after the first day of a two-day board meeting about Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s plans to visit Lausanne, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said said the most recent official contact was “a few weeks ago.”

Peng was invited to visit the Olympic Museum to allay concerns about her safety and ability to travel freely after she filed a sexual assault charge last November against a former senior Chinese Communist Party official. Peng’s well-being has become a global debate before and during the Beijing Winter Games in February.

China’s “zero-COVID” policy has curbed international travel and, Adams said, she would currently face 21 days of quarantine at home if she traveled to Switzerland.

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