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Rio de Janeiro

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Nita Ambani is now India’s only active individual member at the IOC


Nita Ambani, sports promoter and founder chairperson of Reliance Foundation, is now an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

Firstpost—a Reliance group publication—termed Ms. Ambani’s election as “carrying forward the country’s flag in the Olympic Movement.”

The first lady of the Reliance group was voted in as an individual member in Rio on Thursday polling 92.2% valid votes among eight candidates.

The seat of the International Olympic Committe...

The seat of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does being an individual member entail?

The Olympic website states:

“The IOC members, natural persons, are representatives of the IOC in their respective countries, and not their country’s delegate within the IOC. As stated in the Olympic Charter: ‘Members of the IOC represent and promote the interests of the IOC and of the Olympic Movement in their countries and in the organisations of the Olympic Movement in which they serve.’”

So it’s not really a victory for the nation per se—if one wants to nitpick—but actually a shrewd move both by Nita Ambani and the Olympic Committee.

Evidently the committee considers India to be an important cog in its scheme of matters in years to come.

And Nita Ambani gains some legitimacy in the eyes of her numerous detractors and critics who consider her a privileged interloper in the world of Indian sport—not that she cares.

She said:

“I am truly humbled and overwhelmed to be elected by the IOC. This is a recognition of the growing importance of India in the world stage and a recognition for Indian women.

I have always believed in the power of sport to shape our youth. I believe that sports brings together communities, cultures, and generations has the power to unify and unite people. I look forward to spreading the spirit of Olympics and sports across our nation.

I’m working really with multi-sports in India. We want to encourage many other games besides cricket in India like football and basketball and let children be exposed to all kinds of games. So I’m looking forward to building a movement in sports for children in India.’’

She is the only current active Indian member in the IOC and the first Indian woman.

Former Indian Olympic Association Secretary General, Randhir Singh, is an honorary member.

The IOC has 90 members, 36 honorary members and 1 honour member.

Honorary members are usually former members.

Dr. Henry Kissinger is the only honour member of the Committee.

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Societe Generale and Puma to sponsor rugby in India


Is rugby the next sport set to take off in India?

One would hope so given that French financial services major Societe Generale announced a long-term partnership with Rugby India to promote the game in the country.

SG will not just be a financial partner but also the title sponsor for the Indian National Rugby Sevens Team’ across all categories — senior, junior and women.

Societe Generale will also support World Rugby’s ‘Get Into Rugby’, an initiative to teach the game in schools and introduce children to the sport.

Puma have joined the bandwagon as well providing kits to the men’s and women’s teams.

All this went down at the Bombay Gymkhana on Thursday the 28th of July, 2016.

Flag of Bombay Gymkhana, a popular club in Mumbai

Flag of Bombay Gymkhana, a popular club in Mumbai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bombay Gymkhana main corridor

Bombay Gymkhana main corridor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The deal is initially for a period of three years.

Rugby is being reinstated at the Rio Olympics this year after a gap of 92 years.

And Japan is set to be the first Asian country to host the World Cup in 2019.

India is currently ranked 12th among 32 Asian countries who take part.

Aga Hussain, VP of Asia Rugby, believes that India can break into the top five in the next five years.

Solar Energy company PROINSO have also signed a sponsorship deal with the Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

Rugby has over 44,000 registered players in the country.

The game was first played in India in 1871.

English: Europeans playing rugby football in C...

Europeans playing rugby football in Calcutta. Note – lack of Indian people, round (rather than oval) ball, unusual clothing and goal posts. Several of the players appear to be Welsh (hence the dragon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The national team, however, was not formed until 1998. Their first game was against Singapore.

They were inducted into the International Rugby Board only in 2001.

India have never qualified for the Rugby World Cup.

If rugby in India has a profile, it’s mostly due to Bollywood star, Rahul Bose, who represented India for almost 25 years.

Bose played 20 international matches but hung up his boots in 2008.

On his retirement, Bose said:

“Preparing and playing international rugby takes around two months which I don’t have on me now. I have to travel for film festivals, give lectures, I’m on the board of six NGOs and besides I also have my films. Rugby doesn’t pay you well and besides, the youngest player in the team is 18. I must have played with their fathers in school. I’m 40 now, so the signs are loud and clear that I should quit before I start playing with my friends’ children on the team.”

On what he gained from playing the sport:

“Like how to lose gradually and enjoy the score, not the result; to be a team player, because by nature I am an individualist; if you try to play alone, you are bound to get hurt; and, to have a hot heart and keep a cool head. Today we rank 81st among 110 countries and 50 years later, we will rank in the top 20 position. We will be part of the CommonWealth Games, too, but I will be a grandfather by then.”

Bose, of course, was present at the press conference announcing the tie-up with Societe General and Puma India as evidenced by the post below.

Bose need no longer be pessimistic about the state of Indian rugby.

Things are looking up for sport in India and rugby in particular.

Should Russia be disbarred from Rio?


The Court for Arbitration in Sports (CAS) has pronounced its verdict.

The seat of the International Olympic Committe...

The seat of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The IAAF-imposed ban on the Russian Athletics Federation stays.

No Russian track-and-field athlete will be competing in Rio—at least, not under their national flag.

The International Olympic Committee will decide the fate of the Russian contingent when it meets today.

IOC Headquater

IOC headquarters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Lausanne, Switzerland - IOC seat Česk...

English: Lausanne, Switzerland – IOC seat Česky: Lausanne, Švýcarsko – sídlo MOV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CAS judgment is non-binding on the Committee.

WADA and predominantly western nations’ Olympic Committees are vocally in favour of a blanket ban on the rogue nation given clear and damning evidence of state-sponsored collusion in doping. They feel that the IOC must exhibit ‘zerotolerance‘  towards systematic doping by any state. 

Olympic Games 1896, Athens. The International ...

Olympic Games 1896, Athens. The International Olympic Committee. From Left to right, standing: Gebhardt (Germany), Guth-Jarkovsky (Bohemia), Kemeny (Hungary), Balck (Sweden); seated : Coubertin (France), Vikelas (Greece & chairman), Butovsky (Russia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National Olympic Committees have been banned before—simply not for drug-related scandals.

Collective responsibility should not come at the cost of individual justice—the IOC is seeking a balance.

The Russian public believes that their country is being discriminated against by the Western world. They cannot accept that all their athletes are drugged.

A sanction against all Russian competitors would be unfair to those abiding by the rule book. 

While the IOC has several options before arriving at a final decision, a simple solution would be to allow the Russians to participate—both under their national banner and the Olympic one but have each one of their athletes subjected to both in-competition and out-of-competition testing.

This would allow clean athletes to breathe freely and hopefully deter sportspersons who are doping.

This would also send a strong message to errant national sports federations everywhere that unless they clean up their act, their athletes and their fellow countrymen will be treated like Caesar’s wife—not above suspicion.

Simply leaving the decision to international sports federations burdens them further and not all of them are fully equipped to make an informed decision on the matter.

Whatever the IOC’s decision, there will be no pleasing everyone.

That’s a given.

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