POA concerned over sports ministry’s stance on national sports policy

Published May 4, 2021
Pakistani athletes listen to the Olympic anthem during the flag raising ceremony held at the Olympic village in London on July 25, 2012. — AFP/File
Pakistani athletes listen to the Olympic anthem during the flag raising ceremony held at the Olympic village in London on July 25, 2012. — AFP/File

LAHORE: An emergent meeting of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) held on Monday expressed its dissatisfaction over the steps the federal sports ministry is going to adopt in the one-sided new national sports policy, as they fear that if implemented all the national sports federations will be banned by their respective international bodies, like FIFA suspended the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) last month.

Dawn has learnt that the POA general body, which held a virtual meeting, showed concerns over the sports ministry’s steps of deciding to grab the powers of holding elections of all the national federations and to form an appellate tribunal against any petition against those elections. Moreover, the meeting also noted that the ministry was taking steps to make amendments in the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) constitution to take the powers of selecting the teams touring abroad.

It is learnt that the federal sports ministry had forwarded a national sports policy to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval but he sent it back instructing the ministry to first take the input of all stakeholders. On this, the ministry invited the representatives of four national sports federations — hockey, kabaddi, squash and tennis — to take their input without sharing the sports policy with them.

In 2002, it may be mentioned here, the government had introduced a sports policy, without getting the notification of the Cabinet. It was again issued in 2005 after getting the Cabinet notice but one of its clauses limiting the tenure of president, secretary and treasurer of any federation to two terms started a war-like situation between the government and the federations as well as the POA.

Now the sports ministry is again trying to adopt a national sports policy without taking input from all the national federations and POA.

Meanwhile, the POA also issued a press release after Monday’s meeting.

“The general council resolved to abide by the provisions of the Olympic Charter and respective Constitutions. The National Sports Federations are entitled to independently govern their affairs, operations and functions in particular their structure, membership, governance of sports, electoral processes, dispute resolution mechanisms etc. The general council stressed that the rules, laws and policy guidelines cannot be productive if these are made without extensive academic and scientific study and require valuable input of all the stakeholders.

“The general council has urged the Government of Pakistan to uphold its commitment made with the IOC, OCA, ASOIF, ANOC and NOC Pakistan vide Ministry of IPC Letter dated July 3, 2014 following the Lausanne Agreement and to uphold the Resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York on October 2014 A/RES/69/6: which recognises sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace, and also supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic Movement.

“It was decided that a delegation of POA led by retired Lt Gen Syed Arif Hasan, President will call upon the H.E. Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Minister for IPC to present the position of the IOC, POA and NSFs which is essential for the promotion and development of sports in Pakistan. Further it was resolved that NOC Pakistan and National Sports Federations /Associations will continue to work in harmony with the Government of Pakistan for the promotion of sport while respecting the basic fundamentals of autonomy and the rights of each stakeholder,” the press release added.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2021

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