A large section of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) are urging the association’s top-rankers to respect the International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines when forming the Athletes’ Commission, after reports emerged that the NOC Secretary-General (SG) had handpicked a few members to constitute the Commission without following due procedure. In an email written [...]


Fresh controversy over NOC’s Athletes Commission

IOC directs further constitutional amendments

Was the NOC blessed by 'Veddahs' for an AGM postponement? - File pic by Amila Gamage

A large section of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) are urging the association’s top-rankers to respect the International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines when forming the Athletes’ Commission, after reports emerged that the NOC Secretary-General (SG) had handpicked a few members to constitute the Commission without following due procedure.

In an email written to Rohan Fernando and Suresh Subramaniam—two individuals expected to vie for NOC’s top seat at a future election— Secretary General NOCSL Maxwell de Silva has claimed that the Athletes’ Commission is now established with the induction of “eligible athletes”.

But IOC guidelines propose an inclusive approach in the establishment of the Commission, through involvement of a “majority of athletes who at the time of their election/nomination, are participating at a national level (at least) in a sport on the Olympic programme, or have done so within the previous four years”.

The NOC’s new draft constitution, which is up for adoption at a future Extraordinary General Assembly, calls for mandatory Olympic participation—an exclusive clause which prevents a majority of the athletes participating at a national level from being included in the Commission—which is not in keeping with the inclusiveness mandated in the Olympic Charter.

It reads: “Two athletes’ representatives (with one vote each) elected by the COMMITTEE’s Athletes’ Commission established as per the IOC guidelines. Those elected representatives must have taken part in at least one of the last three editions of the Olympic Games.”

The IOC returned the proposed new constitution with comments and the IOC guidelines on the Athletes Commission in April this year. It included clear instructions to share it with the memberships immediately. It was shared only in October, giving sports bodies just few weeks’ notice to respond.

“By this delay, you had deprived us of the knowledge and information concerning the AMENDED CONSTITUTION WITH THE IOC COMMENTS, together with the IOC Guidelines on the Athletes Commission, for a period of over six months and allowed us a mere 10 days up to 28th October 2017 to provide our views on the same,” wrote Football President Anura de Silva, in a letter addressed to the NOCSL Secretary General. “We believe that in the meantime you have proceeded with the establishment of the Athletes Commission, without any intimation or invitation to us, who are practicing Olympic Sports at the national level.”

The football chief was joined by 11 other National Sports Federations who have unanimously cited the need to make further changes to the constitution to align it with IOC guidelines and to make it inclusive by removing the requirement for compulsory Olympic participation.

“We strongly suggest that you officially invite all NSF’s in the Olympic Games programme to nominate eligible athletes to create the Athletes’ Commission and desist from calling them on a personal basis leading to suspicions of your activities,” a separate letter signed by 12 sports bodies, including the FFFSL, stated. “Any nominations submitted without following the due process will not be accepted by a majority of NSF’s.” The Athletes Commission will have two of its members in the NOC Executive Committee and with voting rights.

The letter has been prepared with the consent of 17 NSFs. The Sunday Times’s repeated attempts to contact Maxwell de Silva proved futile.

Election postponed

Meanwhile, the NOCSL this week postponed their Elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) following IOC’s (International Olympic Committee) request for further amendments to its new constitution.

The NOC had adopted the constitution at the General Assembly on October 9, 2017, and set elections for January 9, 2018—their first polls since 2009. But these have now been pushed to late January, while a request has been made for an Extraordinary NOC General Assembly to address and finalise the amendments by the end of December.

Among the IOC’s recommendations is to change the composition of the Executive Board (Office Bearers) “which, as proposed, is not acceptable in terms of good governance as it is a duplication of the General Assembly”. Other proposals include the affiliation of eligible Olympic Sports Federations and the appointment of the independent Election Commission.

Under the new constitution, the Executive Board consists of 18 members. The IOC calls for it to be cut to a maximum of 15 to make it “proportionate and workable”. “In terms of good governance, the number of members of the Executive Board should be proportionate and workable,” the international body said, in comments on the new constitution. Accordingly, a ceiling has been proposed of a maximum of four Vice-Presidents and one Assistant Secretary (as opposed to the proposed two) in the new constitution.

“By way of example, the IOC has 15 members in its Executive Board (including the President) for a Session (General Assembly) of 115 members. In your case, your General Assembly will consist of about 30-35 members. Consequently, the Executive Board should not exceed 13 or 15 members to make it workable,” says the IOC’s comments on Article 16 (Composition, Term of office, vacancies powers and meetings of the Executive Board).

The IOC has also asked the NOCSL to affiliate all eight associations, including the Winter Olympic Association of Sri Lanka, as full members without any preconditions. The NOC membership at its General Assembly had decided to ask five out of seven associations awaiting NOC membership to follow due procedures as prescribed in the statutes of the NOCSL.

This involves presentation of details of the proposed new members to their respective International Federations to the Executive Board–including their activity reports, financial accounts, statutes and affiliations—for scrutiny and approval, followed by presentation to the General Assembly for approval.

“…. we understand that the affiliation of the new Olympic sports federations could not be considered at your last General Assembly for purely procedural reasons,” IOC wrote to NOCSL this week. The letter addressed to NOC President and Secretary General was jointly signed by Pere Miro-Deputy Director General, NOC Relations Director IOC, and Husain Al-MUSALLAM, Director General and Technical Director (Olympic Council of Asia).

“We remind you that, in accordance with Rule 28.1.2 of the Olympic Charter, the NOCs must include all Olympic sports federations which are duly affiliated to their International Federations. Therefore, insofar as these federations are affiliated to their respective International Federations and meet the basic requirements of your NOC Constitution, they should be affiliated to your NOC without any further delay. Consequently, it is requested that you submit the applications of all the eligible Olympic sports federations at your next General Assembly for approval.”

There are seven new associations: Sri Lanka Rugby, National Association of Fencing, Triathlon Association, Sri Lanka Karate-do Federation, Sri Lanka Amateur Baseball/Softball Association, National Roller-Skating Association and Modern Pentathlon Federation of Sri Lanka. Out of the seven, the National Association of Fencing and the Triathlon Association were granted membership since they had already been approved by the Executive Committee four years ago.

Even though the Winter Sports Association of Sri Lanka has produced results, having won a gold medal in snow balling at the Asian Winter Games in 2011 and also taken part in the Asian Winter Games in Sapro Japan in 2017, their name was not submitted for approval at the General Assembly.

Among the IOC’s other concerns is the appointment of a three-member election committee prior to the Elective AGM. As per IOC instruction, NOCSL now needs to fulfill these three requirements before calling for the election of office bearers.

“Please confirm to us the date on which this Extraordinary General Assembly will be convened and please send us a copy of the notice (together with all the documents and information mentioned above which must be circulated to the members). Your immediate action is expected, in order to finalize the entire process by the end of January 2018 at the latest, as per the above mentioned instructions,” the IOC letter said.

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