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National Olympic chief slams minister

26 November 2013 07:07 pm - 23     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Sri Lanka National Olympic Committee (NOC) chairman Hemasiri Fernando launched a scathing attack on Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage today, alleging that the minister has destroyed the autonomy of country’s sports associations by changing the sports law to allow politics to directly control the sports, creating a reign of “terror”.

Fernando who is also a senior government official, currently being the secretary of the Ministry of Postal Services also dismissed an allegation by the sports ministry that the NOC had waited 40 years to complain to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the Sports Law 25 of 1973.

 “The sports law was amended a few times during the past 40 years, but the autonomy of sports associations was not destroyed like this time. Hence, there was no necessity for the NOC to be concerned. However, the regulations introduced in January and August 2013 are so harmful that they had made it compulsory for most national associations to kneel in front of the sports minister for their existence. No sports ministry or sports authority in the world has ever issued such subjugating regulations on sports bodies, as we can claim with responsibility,” Fernando added.

“This is the reason for members of national sports associations to remain silent at meetings called by the minister agreeing with all decisions even against their conscience and remain praise singers, as they can do nothing else in the face of the terror created by the regulations,” said Fernando.

“The reason for me to send an official letter to the IOC six months ago was to inform them that the minister had used his powers to change a few regulations in an arbitrary manner to infringe the autonomy of sports associations,” Fernando explained in a media release.

The IOC last week summoned Aluthgamage and sports ministry officials together with the local NOC officials to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland to discuss the disputed sports law following a written complaint made by Fernando.

The IOC has warned Sri Lanka to scrap the controversial provisions in its sports law to ensure autonomy and jurisdiction of national sports associations, or risk losing international status.

The warning issued by Pere Miro, the National Olympic Committees (NOC) Relations Director of the IOC came as NOC had called for its election of office bearers on December 27.

IOC reminded Aluthgamage of “very serious issues in relations to the sports legislation”, and previous warnings “informally and diplomatically” issued by the IOC in 2010 and in 2012.

“We have carefully examined Sports Law No. 25 of 1973 (in particular Articles 18 to 21 in relation to the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and Part III in relation to the sports federations) as well as the subsequent Regulations issued thereafter and it is obvious that a number of provisions are not compatible with the Olympic Charter and the basic principles of the Olympics Movement,” the letter states.

“In the event that no concrete and serious action is taken to remedy the situation promptly, appropriate measures could be taken by the international sports institutions, which could call into question the representation of Sri Lanka at international sports events,” it added.

The letter states: “In particular, the specific provisions of the sports legislation which clearly interfere with the autonomy and the jurisdiction of the national sports organizations should be removed in order for the national sports organizations to be in a position to establish their specific internal regulations and operations in accordance with the basic principles and rules of the respective international sports organizations (and, of course, the general framework of the law of the land).”

Fernando pointed out yesterday that the new regulations had invoked unlimited powers on Director General of Sports to control sports associations and also to control election of office bearers to the associations. The regulations also give an unlimited power to the minister to decide all office bearers of associations except the treasurer, as anyone contesting posts in national sports associations has to get the prior approval of the minister. Fernando said that the NOC identified 24 such new regulations which “dangerously affect the independence of national sports associations and blatantly violate all local and international traditions” and informed the IOC properly of the situation.

Fernando who has been at the helm of the country’s apex sports body for 16 long years also alleged that the Sports Minister distributed government funds among sports associations based on the strength of friendship and other relationships. He called for an independent process for distributing such funds among all national sports associations without discrimination.

“It is a well-known fact the federations close to the top are getting the lion’s share. At this stage I like to request the ministry to provide us with a record of the funds allocated for each federation since 2009. Those who have no connections with the top have virtually got nothing,” said Fernando.

Fernando mocked the Minister’s media unit for not even knowing where IOC headquarters are located.

“The media unit of the ministry is trying to portray my attempt to safeguard the independence of NOC as a conspiracy against the country and the government. That is why it alleges that we are going to “Geneva’’ against the government. It should be noted that IOC head quarters are located in the city of Lausanne in Switzerland and not in Geneva. I have not accused the government directly or indirectly in any of my letters to the IOC. I have only highlighted the negative impact on sports federations caused by some decisions of the ministry taken on the wrong advises of certain parties,” Fernando said.

Fernando claimed that the Minister softening his stance at a recent meeting with NOC officials was a positive sign of resolving the crisis.

“The IOC has summoned NOC and sports ministry officials to their headquarters in Lausanne in order to resolve the current crisis through negotiations of the involved parties. The dialogue is the best way to resolve problems and the minister seemed to have softened his stance at a discussion recently held with NOC officials. We consider this as a positive sign,” said Fernando. (Channaka de Silva)

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  Comments - 23

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  • John Wednesday, 27 November 2013 04:20 AM

    Yes Mr Fernando should be commended to have the guts to question the Minister out of concen for the future.

    Do other sports bodies which are riddled with aparent corruption - SLC for example, have a commited 'Fernando' amongst them to do likewise and sanitise the sport for true enjoyment by the SLn public?

    Michael Wednesday, 27 November 2013 06:00 PM

    Now why are you going out of the country to solve your issues why cant you try to solve your problems within the country.

    If a small sports body cant solve its issues within the country how do you expect the minority to solve their problem within the country ?

    So don't run to the IOC 1st visit the OIC.

    Lokka Mahaththaya Wednesday, 27 November 2013 10:28 AM

    ah.. so the little big man of NOC has turned 360 degrees to play 'god'. we clearly remember how he manipulated the sports law and got his infamous son (a)pavithra to captain the SL rugby team and created a catastrophic effect. the minister 'big-house' was his best friend. not only that, when HF was the chief of Airport & Aviation, he created a safe passage for a foreign rugby player to scoot out of the island. this was after the said player pounced on a local referee and landed a knockout punch on his face. the ref lodged a complaint at cinnamon garden police. but the offender got away, thanks to (a)pavithra who was playing for the same club and his father was the head of A&A.

    Ding Wednesday, 27 November 2013 08:28 AM

    After SLC, Monkey Face has started to eat the NOC banana.

    G.M. Jayawardena Wednesday, 27 November 2013 07:16 AM

    Thanks to Sirasa TV for discussing this rip of the NOC and what Arjuna Ranathuinga and other officials said about the NOC seems correct. As they said may be the minister himself is helpless for some reason.

    Shinesh Wednesday, 27 November 2013 07:13 AM

    HF.. seems to be a man with a spine, knowing these real facts may be taken against him as I many other cases.. Hats off to you SIR

    perera Wednesday, 27 November 2013 05:57 AM

    Hemasiri put his son to captain SL rugby team after getting help from the MR. We all know what HF record ..Funny lanka

    Dammika Wednesday, 27 November 2013 05:36 AM

    These politicians not service the people .... they are only finding ways to creep into high ranking positions and robbing money

    Labby Wednesday, 27 November 2013 05:22 AM

    If someone at SLC had a similar backbone as Mr Hemasiri Fernando then we would not have 'lost' the WC final to India.

    Tilak Wednesday, 27 November 2013 05:19 AM

    Your courage to expose these matters will safe guard the future of other sports too. The currant Sports minister has ruined all Sports bodies, through politics.

    Andrew Pitugala Wednesday, 27 November 2013 05:06 AM

    TRUTH HURTS. National interest must be the only priority. Hope others will follow.

    tony Wednesday, 27 November 2013 04:43 AM


    Ratavasiya Tuesday, 26 November 2013 08:08 PM

    Hats off to Hemasiri, get these politicians out of sports bodies.

    surasena Wednesday, 27 November 2013 04:03 AM

    Yes, the Minster must win, as we the "Intelligent Voters", as they say, selected these politicos to the office. If he loses, our intelligence is at stake.

    Haka Haka Wednesday, 27 November 2013 03:34 AM

    They must call for an international investigation into this matter by an indeoendent panel of international experts.

    Independent Wednesday, 27 November 2013 02:37 AM

    Sports Minister will win in the end. When have we heard of Politicians/Ministers giving in whether right or wrong in Sri Lanka ?

    Perumal Wednesday, 27 November 2013 02:31 AM

    Why, Minister? Can't you label Hemasiri a "Desha Drohi", "Jathi Drohi" according to "Chinthanaya" and chase him away? You can get a "Virodhathawa" (demonstration) held in front of NOC, if necessary.

    Sadal Wednesday, 27 November 2013 01:41 AM

    How far you will stand by this

    sinha Wednesday, 27 November 2013 01:32 AM

    Looks like you have some guts. Hope you won't change ur mind so quickly.

    Suny J Wednesday, 27 November 2013 01:09 AM

    at least a sports official found the back bone stand up..!!!

    durang Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:52 AM

    Ah! thunder storms at sweet jack tree.

    Janaki Kalansuriya Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:41 AM

    and this will pave the way for a powerful Minister's son-in-law, who is a deputy already, to the the next Chairman. But at least we can applaud Hemasiri for saying a mouthful. Well Doe, HF.

    #RECALL Tuesday, 26 November 2013 08:59 PM

    In Sri Lanka SPORTS = POLITICS - POLITICS = SPORTS (this new rule added to the books since lucrative money involved in it). Come on Lankans , Grow up...

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