Athletes Commission flip-flop on support

Vinayak Padmadeo

New Delhi, April 29

The Athletes Commission of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) held a meeting today, and one particular decision by it has raised questions over its autonomy. The 12-member committee, which is headed by six-time world champion boxer Mary Kom, wanted to come out with a statement in support of the protesting wrestlers. According to sources in the committee, the draft for such a statement was agreed upon during a virtual meeting. However, the statement was not released after committee member Gagan Narang — who is also a vice-president of the IOA — said such a statement would leave the commission open to criticism because it would be late in reacting to the wrestlers’ protest. This is the second time in three months that the committee has failed to support the wrestlers.

Sharath Kamal, OP Karhana, Abhinav Bindra, Rani Rampal, Narang and Shiva Keshavan attended the meeting today. Multiple sources confirmed to The Tribune that Narang questioned the timing of the statement on the commission’s WhatsApp group. “We all agreed to release the statement. The draft was ready but after the meeting, Gagan suddenly questioned the timing. He said we will be criticised for being late,” said a source in the committee. Another commission member expressed surprise that Sharath, the vice-chairman of the body, chose not to pull his weight on the issue. “Mary Kom has not attended the meetingshellip; In her absence Sharath should have taken control but he chose to stay away,” the source said.

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