NOC: Sports Ministry calls for report on 'misuse of accreditation' from NOC

10 February 2019 - 62   - 0

The Sports Ministry has called for a comprehensive report from the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOC) about reports that it "misused accreditations" for last year’s Commonwealth Games. 

The Ministry directive comes after the Sports Minister received a written complaint that the NOC granted official accreditation to the wife of Mahinda Liyanage, then President of the Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union, who did not have official status at the Games. 

The accusation came from Huzam Usuph, father of winter athlete Azquiya Usuph. 

The complainant in his letter to the Sports Ministry, copied to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), alleged that accreditation was given by Maxwell de Silva, NOC Secretary General, "without the knowledge of any of the NOC Executive Committee members or approval”. 

“A complaint has been made therein by Mr. Huzam Usuph mentioning Misuse of Accreditation by Godahewa Sumudu Liyanage and Mr Mahinda Liyanage with NOC General Secretaries in 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia," Secretary to the Minister of Sports Chulananda Perera wrote to NOC Chairman Suresh Subramanium. 

“As such, you are kindly requested to let us have a comprehensive report in this regard on or before 15th February 2019.” 

Mahinda Liyanage admitted he and his wife were granted accreditation for the Games as guests of NOC Sri Lanka but that they did not use public funds for their travel or stay. 

The NOC confirmed that they facilitated the couple's accreditation. 

“We facilitated them getting accredited to the Games but never released NOC funds for their travel and stay,” said NOC chief Suresh Subramaniam, maintaining that the Ministry has no right to question NOC decisions. “So far I have not received a note from the Ministry asking us to submit a report. But I must tell you they have no right to do that as we are a fully independent association governed by the statutes of the International Olympic Committee." 

The complainant has also said there were many NOC Executive Committee members and officials who were not given accreditation including the official Diving Coach of the Sri Lanka team, Chanaka Wickremasinghe. 

Wickremasinghe, who had not received accreditation at the time of his arrival for the event with two-member diving team, had stayed outside the Games village for four days before being given a valid pass allowing him entry. 

“I had to wait till swimming athletes returned home to get myself accredited and housed in the Games village,” he said. 

The letter also alleged that the NOC facilitated Mahinda’s entry to the Rio Olympics by using "a slot allocated for media", thereby depriving a bona fide media person of the opportunity to cover the Games. 

“I am also explicitly requesting you to formally bring the 'two instances of misuse of accreditation' to the International Olympic Committee & Commonwealth Secretariat,” Usuph wrote. 

“Please take action regards to the misuse of accreditation and visa waiver and instruct the Criminal Investigation Department to inquire into this as it's obvious to be organized racket to smuggle human cargo”.

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