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POA makes plea for Pakistan’s sporting future

July 04, 2012

LAHORE, July 4: Pakistan might be suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this month in the wake of the ‘war for power’ between the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) on two key issues.

However, the POA is willing to put an end to that stand-off.

The conflict between the two is over the issue of two-term restriction that the government-backed PSB has imposed on the office-bearers of the national sports federations and over some amendments that the PSB made in its constitution in 2009.

The IOC had given its verdict on both the issues on June 4 when it heard from both parties at its headquarters in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

The world sports governing body asked the PSB to remove the amendments from its constitution which allowed them to interfere in the working of any sports federation while asking the government not to interfere in the matters of the Olympic association.

In order to avoid the IOC suspension, the POA has appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf with POA chief Lt Gen (retired) Syed Arif Hasan requesting their timely interference at a marathon press conference held at a local hotel here on Wednesday.

“The POA is fighting to prevent the IOC suspension but if the sports authorities in Islamabad do not realise the grave nature of this situation, it will incur a lot of damage to the sports in the country,” Arif said, adding that the suspension would mean that no athlete, coach or technical official from the country would be eligible to take part in any international competitions in any sport.

“The situation is worsening as the PSB has convened a special meeting of its executive body in Islamabad on Thursday just to take decisions that favour them.

“However, the IOC will not accept any such decision.”

Meanwhile, in a late development, the PSB shifted the venue of the meeting from its main office in Islamabad to an unspecified location, Dawn has learnt.

Arif has declared the meeting illegal as a 15-day notice was not served to the members while adding that at the meeting in Lausanne, the IOC had asked the government to submit the reply till June 25 whether the decisions were implemented or not.

The government, however, has not replied yet and although it is unclear when the IOC will give its decision, POA officials believe that it might be announced before London Olympics start on July 27.

According to Arif, the dispute initially arose when he was elected for a third term as the POA president. Although the results of the elections were accepted by the federations, a case was later filed against it which is still pending with the Lahore High Court.

“I reckon that they [the government] want to remove the elected body of the POA and get their own personnel in before accepting the IOC terms and making a plea for the restoration of the country into the world’s sports governing body,” Arif said.