In order to promote good governance and avoid concentration of power around a few individuals, as has been the case during the last 20 years, a section of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) is pushing to introduce term limits to the post of President and Secretary-General. The restrictions, if included in the [...]


No Overstaying Controllers in NOC’s amended Constitution


Many rounds of discussions have taken place over the years, but with less productive rate and positive outcomes - File pic

In order to promote good governance and avoid concentration of power around a few individuals, as has been the case during the last 20 years, a section of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) is pushing to introduce term limits to the post of President and Secretary-General..

The restrictions, if included in the draft constitution, will be a progressive move towards avoiding power becoming too centred around a select few within the NOCSL.

With NOCSL’s new constitution coming up for ratification and adoption at the Nov.9 General Assembly, a majority wants the draft to be amended further, to set limits to the two top slots, to prevent holding office from “cradle to grave”. They also propose wider powers to the Executive Committee (ExCo)- the supreme body of the institution- to avoid abuse of power by office bearers.

Supporters say term limits will make officials accountable, usher in fresh views to shake up the static power structures, mitigate an incumbent’s advantages and give the membership its fundamental right to elect their choice of officials.

However, they have strongly opposed a suggestion to set an age limit, as they had campaigned against its deletion when formulating the Sports Regulations.

A total of 13 National Sports Associations (NSAs), of the 20 NSA’s eligible voters (NOCSL has 26 members) have thus proposed two, 4-year terms, in keeping with the constitution of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which allows only a maximum of two terms. This also complies with the National Sports Regulation No.1 of 2016.

Both IOC and Sports Ministry have set a maximum of two terms for elected members of NSAs. In fact, the IOC, in April, wrote to the NOCSL to seriously consider adding a ‘reasonable’ age limit and a term limit to elected office bearers.

Even though the world body specifies a maximum of two-terms for an elected member and an age limit of 70, similar conditions are absent from the proposed NOCSL constitution. The membership now feels they should be introduced to ensure good governance.

‘“We feel that the issues of (i) adding a reasonable age-limit (e.g. 70 or 75 as initially proposed in your Constitution) and (ii) defining a maximum number of terms for the office-bearers, should be seriously considered and, at least, be addressed and discussed openly within your General Assembly for final decision by the General Assembly,” the IOC wrote in their findings to the NOCSL, in April this year.

In 1993, Sri Lanka’s Parliament set a term-limit of two for NOCSL officials, but this was changed in 2005 by then Minister of Sports Jeevan Kumaratunga, bypassing an amendment to the Sports Law

The Sports Law (Amendment) Act No. 33 of 2005, removed the term limit, allowing an unlimited term of office.

This change allowed Hemasiri Fernando to stay on uninterrupted as President from 1998, including the last 4 years, without an election. Fernando has vowed not to return to the position when elections are held to the ExCo, but Maxwell de Silva, who has been the S-G since 2009 (the last 4 years without an election) will stand again. The NOCSL elections, which were due in 2013, were postponed till the completion of a fresh constitution and the amendments of the restrictive Sports Regulations introduced in 2013.

They have also proposed to empower the ExCo with decision-making powers, such as the appointment of delegates to multi-sports competitions, congresses organized by the IOC, Commonwealth Games Federation, Olympic Council of Asia and any other organisation of a similar nature, to stop abuse of power.

Even though these powers are vested with the ExCo even now, they have been wielded by the S-G for several years. Members believe the ExCo should be empowered to make these decisions in future.

They also want to set up a 3-member independent election panel; a strong, independent and credible dispute resolution mechanism; close cooperation with government bodies to achieve harmonious relations; and strict compliance with national laws that do not interfere with the Olympic Charter. They have also opposed the name change from NOCSL to Sri Lanka Olympic, citing legal implications.

Meanwhile, the NOCSL has turned a deaf ear to a request by a majority of its members to include 8 resolutions to be discussed at the forthcoming General Assembly.

Responding to a ‘web notice’ published on Sept.22 by the NOCSL, regarding the long overdue General Assembly on Nov.9, the members forwarded these resolutions to be adopted at the General Assembly.

They requested the minutes of the last General Assembly held in 2012; the annual reports of the activities of the NOCSL since 2010; accounts statements since 2012; the reasons for delay in submitting of accounts to the auditors; the methodologies for selections and appointments of delegates to congresses, conferences, meetings of the IOC, OCA, CGF and SASF and chef-de-missions for Games; a draft of the proposed constitution; a list of members for election at the General Assembly; and to fix date for the election of office bearers. However, the new agenda for the Nov.9 meeting, does not include any of the above. A clear indication of NOCSL’s repressive administration.

These agenda items were requested by 11 member-Associations in keeping with Article 12.5 of the prevailing constitution. These associations deem that their proposed agenda items had become very important, particularly in a situation where no General Assembly has been held since 2013.

Audited financial statements are mandatory to hold elections. The NOCSL, as late as last week, submitted the 2016 statement of accounts to the Auditor General’s Dept, more than 10 months after the year ended. This is despite the fact that the NOCSL accounts are now fully computerized with the possibility of producing the monthly results immediately at the end of any accounting period.

Part 11, Article 5 (4) V of the Sports Regulations 1 of 23 October 2016, which are now applicable to all National Sports Federations, specifies that; “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or otherwise hold office or otherwise to hold or continue to hold any paid or unpaid office or hold any paid or unpaid post or to be a member of a Committee of any National Association of Sports or to be nominee of an affiliated club or organisation in a National Association of Sports if he, being a person who has held the Post of President, Secretary or a Treasurer of a National Association of Sports, which has failed or neglected to submit the Audited Financial Statements within the stipulated period “.

As the NOCSL also receives support from the Government of Sri Lanka, through its taxpayers’ funds, as well as from the IOC and its affiliates, for the development of sports in the country, the Minister of Sports should discuss it with the IOC and make the legislation applicable to the NOCSL.

Secretary-General Maxwell de Silva initially, blamed the Auditors for the delay, but later blamed the NOCSL’s Finance Committee and Treasurer for the delay.

Responding to charges that the Finance Committee is responsible for the audit delays of the NOCSL, its Chairman Rohan Fernando says the important sub-committee was not functioning properly since 2013.

“How can anyone blame the Finance Committee when it does not have authorizing or sign off powers? We were just a sub-committee and besides, we met only 4 times since 2013, after the meetings of the ExCo and the office bearers were halted unilaterally by the President and the S-G,” Fernando responded.

Fernando said that the Finance Committee was functioning properly prior to 2013, but was disregarded thereafter.

“There were lots of allegations of financial misappropriation during the 2016 Rio Olympics and I requested for an internal audit, but was disregarded, and they continue to flout the regulations which are mandatory under Sri Lanka Accounting standards,” Fernando explains

Fernando is widely tipped to take over the reins of the Olympic Committee at a future election of office bearers, when the incumbent relinquishes duties, after a marathon two decades at the helm.

The NOCSL sent its accounts for auditing a few weeks ago, that too, without ratification by the ExCo, an important statutory requirement.

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.