Reliance Foundation’s founder-chairperson and a prominent personality involved with cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL), Nita Ambani, is on the verge of becoming India’s lone representative in international sport’s most-elite group, the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Within the next 24 hours, Nita Ambani’s election to the International Olympic Group that governs the global Olympic movement, will propel her to a place of eminence in the Olympic movement, and not just within India.
The principal owner of the Mumbai Indians (MI) franchise in the IPL cricket tournament, Nita Ambani has been nominated for election to the IOC as an independent member after introduction of the new candidate-selection process. She did not have to go through the nominations by the Olympic sport officials in India.
Wife of India’s most prominent industrialist Mukesh Ambani, she needs a mandate from the IOC house, which insiders say is now just a formality, when the election of new members takes place on Thursday morning.
The election process, however, could be advanced if the technical reports on future Olympic Games are delivered well in time late Wednesday.
In any case, within the next 24 hours, India will once again have a vote-casting representative in the IOC, whose last Indian member was Randhir Singh, from Patiala’s royal family. Randhir Singh, whose father late Raja Bhalendra Singh was also an IOC member, ended his term after he vacated his long-held position as General Secretary of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) four years ago.
The new hierarchy of the IOA sought to nominate some other officials, who failed to get the approval of the influential IOC membership, and the second-most populous nation went without a vote in vital IOC meetings.
India went unrepresented in the IOC since the retirement of Randhir Singh, who was elected to the IOC in the quota of representatives of the National Olympic Committees. In the aftermath of a clash between sports factions of the Indian Olympic Association, Randhir Singh's tenure as General Secretary of the IOA ended. At that juncture, Randhir Singh was also the Secretary-General of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
The choice of Nita Ambani, among eight candidates who all may be elected for membership, is credited to IOC’s new President, Thomas Bach, who rated the eight nominated candidates at a “very outstanding group” and “experts in their respective fields.” In her only comment ahead of the election, Nita Ambani said the “nomination is a recognition of India and the Indian women.” During the past two years, Randhir Singh has been elected as an honourary life member, but no longer takes part in any vote. The ex-secretary of the IOA, Randhir Singh had helped Bach by attracting most Asian votes in the German friend’s favour.
World's second-most populous country, India have an extremely poor record at the Olympic Games.
Restricting herself to the education initiatives of the Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani became prominent when the parent company invested in an IPL cricket team and also went forth to launch football’s Indian Super League (ISL). Both these leagues are franchise focused sporting events that have attracted a lot of private investors into the sporting arena.
This nomination also marks the first occasion of an Indian woman being considered for the IOC position. Although she has officially never occupied a position in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the election to IOC membership will earn her a key position as a permanent invitee. Nita Ambani’s involvement could pave the way for the IOA to adopt more professional outlook. This could be the reason why the IOC said the new nominations were part of its strategy for sport.
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