The Indian Sports Ministry has taken decisive action by suspending the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) following its failure to conduct timely elections for the new Executive Committee. This move comes after the Wrestling Federation of India faced a similar suspension last year. The Sports Ministry’s decision is rooted in the PCI’s breach of its charter and the National Sports Code, highlighting concerns about governance and accountability.
The PCI, led by Deepa Malik, the first female para-athlete from India to win a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, reportedly faced allegations of irregularities in election scheduling and a lack of adherence to regulatory frameworks. The Sports Ministry informed the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) about the derecognition of the PCI and the formation of an ad-hoc body to oversee its affairs.
Paralympic Committee of India’s suspension leads to the barring of Indian athletes in the Paralympic Games
The suspension carries significant implications, as Indian para-athletes will be barred from participating in IPC-sanctioned competitions, including the Paralympic Games in Paris, under the national flag. The Sports Ministry addressed in its letter to the PCI “… whereas taking note of the intentional delay by the PCI to elect a new executive committee, vis a vis the essentially of upholding good governance and accountability standards in sports federation nationwide and the requirements of all the national sports federations, National Olympic Committee (NOC) and National Paralympic Committee (NPC) to adhere strictly to the sports code, the government is left with no choice but to suspend the recognition of PCI with immediate effect till further orders.”
One of the key points of contention was the PCI’s decision to schedule elections for the new Executive Committee on March 28, 2024, which falls two months after the expiry of the existing committee’s term. The Sports Ministry deemed this intentional and without valid reason, stating that it undermined the democratic process and principles of good governance mandated by the National Sports Development Code of India.
In response to the suspension, an ad-hoc body will take charge of the PCI’s operations, pending further orders from the government. This action underscores the government’s commitment to enforcing adherence to the sports code and maintaining transparency within sports organizations.
The repercussions of this suspension on para-athletes and the future of the PCI remain uncertain, with the focus now shifting to corrective measures to address the alleged violations. The development highlights the importance of upholding governance standards in sports organizations and the consequences for non-compliance, even for bodies supporting para-athletes at the highest levels.