The Nepali Olympic Saga

As Olympic makes a return to London, after more than 6 decades, Zara Phillips has become the focus of attention. The grand-daughter of Queen Elizabeth, who will compete in Britain’s equestrian squad, is now more searched (in internet search engines) and talked about than other stars competing at the Olympics.

It is not just about whether Zara makes it to the podium or not, but it is about Royal Family member competing. For Royal family members, it never is about competition. Competition is for the commoners and that’s what they’ve been doing all along.

Olympic Rings made of condoms

As world talks about Zara, Nepali sports fraternity is worried about two Nepal Olympic Committees (NOC) in existence. Especially, after the board meeting of National Sports Council (NSC) recommended the cabinet to dissolve both the Nepal Olympic committees. Make no mistake; this meeting of NSC was chaired by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, the head of ministerial cabinet as well.

Since the day of the decision, confusion is rife in sport sector.

Following the decision, some legal eagles have challenged it, saying it has no legal validity. Some even said, it was contempt of the Supreme Court. It should be noted that one NOC – headed by Rukma Shumsher Rana – has been deemed official by Supreme Court, meaning this is government recognized. While the other NOC – headed by Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan – enjoys recognition of International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Some law professionals have said that NOC is an entity that works under Olympic Charter, and government should not interfere. The logic there is: national Olympic Committees are monitored by IOC and there is clear provision by which government interference is prohibited.

The spirit of such a provision is that the sport sector should not run on the whims and fancies of government, or rather political class. It is an effort by which sport receives autonomy and is run professionally. Under that spirit, Olympic Committees should not be interfered.

But the reality is that we have two NOCs, and both are not ready to look at each other eye-to-eye. And it is a dilemma for government as well as everyone else.

If this is the case – of government being forced to follow Pradhan-led NOC – NSC has already gone against Supreme Court decision by sending players for South Asian Beach Games in 2011 (Sri Lanka), through Pradhan led NOC. Now, NSC is a government entity. If that is not recognition of this Committee, what is?

We know that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai is the patron of National Sports Council, the apex body of sports in the country. A patron, by definition is protector of the organization. And the meeting attended by the patron taking a drastic decision means all is not well with the sector. The decision may not have valid legal grounds, or could be challenged in a court of law. But what it also points out at, is that both the NOCs have not been transparent.

Both the NOC have criticized NSC board meeting’s decision of dissolving them. Both have said government doesn’t have rights to overpower them. However, both sides failed to utter why everyone is frustrated with them. Or rather, what could be done to resolve the crisis. That definitely puts question on their intentions. If welfare of sports was the main motivation for their existence, they would try to give up differences. But more than a year has gone by and both exist. If that’s not a sign of carelessness, what is?

Technically, government may not have authority to dissolve them. Likewise, morally, both the committees – led by Rana as well as Pradhan – have lost the grounds to exist.

In such a time, we’re reminded of lines from Pierre de Coubertin, the man who restarted Modern Olympics, “Wars break out because nations misunderstand each other. We shall not have peace until the prejudices which now separate the different races shall have been outlived. To attain this end, what better means than to bring the youth of all countries periodically together for amicable trials of muscular strength and agility?”

Going by what we’ve seen so far, it would be fair to doubt, if the warring NOCs, have ever read the lines.

PS: The write-up appeared in Yours Truly’s weekly column in The Kathmandu Post – OFFSIDE – on 14 July, 2012

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