The Inconvenient Truth

It’s official now. The honourable Sports Minister is going to lead our contingent at the Asian Games. He will be the chef de mission as we’re being represented by our players at the biggest stage in Asia. That, effectively, has killed the speculation and a lot of claims and counter claims over who’s to head our contingent as top athletes from all over Asia parade in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
You would breathe a sigh of relief at such a piece news, or maybe throw your hands in despair, depending upon how you view the participation. But, if you were an athlete, you’d just nod, and say, “Well, what difference does it make?” Given the nonchalance of our sport officials towards the players in previous visits, the lines speak volumes.
There are two sides to the minister’s participation – one, of ending the controversy, and the other, of raising more questions. Indeed, Minister as Chef de Mission has ended the present claims and counter-claims from both National Sports Council member secretary and Nepal Olympic Committee officials. Anything that puts an end to controversy in sport is a welcome move.
But another view, and the one which could have far reaching consequence is – should a minister head such a mission? Maybe yes, but maybe not… The chef de mission is a liaison role and it includes coordinating between the Games Organizing Committee as well as other multi-sport organizations. The chef de mission is expected to know the technical part of sport, the rules and the updates in the rules.
With due respect to all the politicians – which is the group ministers belong to – it can be safely said that they, mostly, are unaware of rules of sports. In such a condition how well can our minister perform the role, is a question that does not even need to be answered. All over the world, perhaps without exception, ministers are not given that responsibility. Even if they do join in as chef de mission, it is because they hold some other post in sporting bodies.
More importantly, the ministers, in sports festivals of this stature, are invited by the Games Organizing Committee or the IOC, depending upon the clout of the ministers in the larger body. They’re invited as special guests and given VVIP treatment.
Has our minister done wrong not to deserve that treatment? Or alternatively, why doesn’t he want to see himself there? The questions have no easy answers.
Meanwhile, the honorable Supreme Court has put an end to the question over which one is the legitimate of the two NOCs. The only flip side is that the one not recognized by the Supreme Court enjoys IOC recognition.
Honoring and acting on the Supreme Court verdict will take time and hopefully, IOC will also honor it. But one important part of the apex court verdict in the past week went unnoticed. It said, sports associations did not need registration under National Sports Council.
While it may have made not have made the NSC authorities very happy, it has perhaps, opened the doors for modernization of Nepali sports fraternity. The verdict said that the sport associations needed affiliation from NSC and not registration. This effectively ends NSC control over sporting bodies in the country.
Sport, in most countries, has flourished because the sport’s governing body stopped ‘controlling’ them. Rather, the governing bodies are expected or should ‘manage’ the sports association. Gone are the days when some elites would, as an act of benevolence, set up an organization to ‘let’ sport flourish. These days, the governing bodies facilitate and coordinate with other bodies, rather than administer them.
There’s no reason why the same system cannot be used in Nepal. Rather, the question would be: Why should we not adopt for a system that is modern and has more chances of success?

And thankfully, the Supreme Court has given us a start.
(The article appeared in a weekly column of yours truly, in The Kathmandu Post, Nov 6, 2010)

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