IOC warns Indian officials, puts Olympic meeting at risk

GENEVA (AP) — Indian Olympic officials were given a final warning by the IOC on Thursday and told their hosting of the organization’s annual meeting in Mumbai next year was postponed and could yet be canceled.

The International Olympic Committee cited “ongoing internal disputes, governance shortcomings and ongoing court cases” including a failure by India’s Olympic body to hold scheduled elections last December.

The IOC said its so-called Session — an annual meeting of about 100 individual members including Indian billionaire Nita Ambani — due to be held in Mumbai next May is now postponed until at least September.

The meeting, to be held in a conference center owned by the Ambani family, has been intended to showcase India’s Olympic ambitions including aiming to host the Summer Games in 2036.

A key decision intended to be taken at the 2023 Session — whether in Mumbai or elsewhere if India’s issues are not resolved — is confirming the host of the 2030 Winter Games.

Sapporo in Japan is a leading contender to be picked in December by the IOC executive board as the preferred candidate for 2030 with exclusive negotiating rights. Salt Lake City, Utah, and Vancouver, Canada, are also preparing bids. All three cities previously hosted a Winter Games.

A delegation of Indian officials will meet the IOC in Lausanne later this month for talks to avert any sanctions.

The IOC said it would “consider immediate suspension” of the India Olympic committee at its December board meeting if no solutions are found. If the suspension is enforced, the next Session will be moved from Mumbai — though that embarrassing outcome seems unlikely at this stage.

The IOC reminded that India was suspended from the Olympic movement “for similar reasons between 2012 and 2014.”

The postponed IOC meeting has also delayed decisions on which sports — those at risk of losing their places and others looking to debut at the Olympics — will be included at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting were last year left off the initial list of sports and given until the IOC members’ meeting in 2023 to resolve governance issues.

The International Boxing Association holds a re-run presidential election on Sept. 25 in Armenia, and the IOC has long aired concerns with the incumbent Umar Kremlev of Russia. The IOC published a letter written Thursday to IBA that re-stated unease over a financial dependence on Russian state energy firm Gazprom.

Asked at a press conference after the first day of a two-day board meeting about plans for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai to visit Lausanne, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the most recent official contact was “a few weeks ago.”

Peng has been invited to visit the Olympic Museum to ease concerns about her safety and ability to travel freely after she made a sexual assault allegation last November against a former high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official. Peng’s well-being became a global debate ahead of and during the Beijing Winter Games in February.

China’s “zero-COVID” policy has curbed international travel and, Adams said, she would currently face 21 days of quarantine at home is she visited Switzerland.

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