Ramachandran: Accountability is the key!

"The federations make respective pitches to the Government and the latter provides them with the funds. So far no federation has raised any issue on that aspect. Having said that, you can ask me what the IOA is doing. The IOA comes in for co-ordination. If any federation has a problem, we take it up with the Government," says N. Ramachandran, the IOA president.

N. Ramachandran, the IOA president, stresses on good governance.   -  R. RAGU

Ramachandran hands over the South Asian Games flag to Nepal officials at the conclusion of the 12th SAG in Guwahati. Nepal is the next host.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

N. Ramachandran has been at the helm of things for some time now. Since 2008, he has been serving as the World Squash Federation president. In February 2014, he took on a bigger role of being the president of the Indian Olympic Association.

In this interview to Sportstar, a positive and frank Ramachandran opened up on India’s Olympic preparations, plans for exposure for athletes ahead of the Rio Games and his inability to induct squash into the Olympics.

On preparation for the Olympics

It is going well. As far as the individual federations are concerned, the Government of India has got what we call the stock programme, where all the funds that are necessary are given for them to practice and train abroad. Whether it is hockey, wrestling, shooting or badminton, the Government, because of its interaction via SAI (Sports Authority of India) with all the federations, is funding the players directly.

The federations make respective pitches to the Government and the latter provides them with the funds. So far no federation has raised any issue on that aspect.

Having said that, you can ask me what the IOA is doing. The IOA comes in for co-ordination. If any federation has a problem, we take it up with the Government. We attended a meeting which was chaired by the secretary of sports where I highlighted that in this Olympics we need Indian food. So the Government as well as the IOA has written to the organising committee in Brazil asking them to ensure that there is staple Indian food, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, at the athletes village. They have taken it up and I think they will be discussing it in their organising committee. There will be a meeting when this discussion will be brought up.

Plans for the exposure of players ahead of the Rio Olympics

What we have told the federations, and the federations are also in direct touch with the Government, is that they will all have an acclimatisation programme before the Rio Games. So all of them will land in Brazil sufficiently early.

Although the village opens only on July 24, they will be there earlier, to acclimatise themselves to the temperature, local conditions, so on and so forth. As a matter of fact the organising committee had written to all the federations asking them about the contingents who will be coming early for exposure, etc.

As far as the Olympics is concerned, the IOA doesn’t interfere in the functioning of the federations. While they are all members and we support them, we allow the federations to directly deal with the Government and whatever they need, the Government gives them.

Disciplines the IOA is expecting medals from

(Laughs) It is impossible for me to say. Reasonably you can say shooting, wrestling, archery, badminton — these are the sports from which the federations are expecting medals. It all depends on that day’s performance of the athletes.

On the problems faced by different sports federations in the past few months

There is a dispute committee of the IOA. We have made it very clear to all the national sports federations, that if you have dispute come to us, we will sort it out for you. Unfortunately, there is this habit of rushing to court or fighting amongst themselves. It is not good for Indian sports. It is better to sit across the table and sort it out. If the two groups are not in a position to sort things out, let them at least take the help of the IOA. The IOA will sort it out. We need to be fair.

Federations need to keep their act going. It is not like 10-15 years ago where you could do something and get away with it. Today, you need to be held accountable. There has to be a perception that a federation is run properly. People will expect that from the federations. I strongly believe in it.

 

I might be criticised for this statement, you can write it down also, but I stand by it.

If I have a fault and somebody points out that fault to me, then that person or individual does not become a bad person. I have to rectify myself. That is my attitude. I feel that federations have to be held accountable because they take funds from the Government.

All federations take funds from the Government, they take it from sponsors. Irrespective of where the money comes from, you have to be held accountable. You have to function transparently. There is nothing wrong in it. It is called governance and I think we should all ensure that governance is observed strictly.

On Squash’s exclusion from Olympics

I had eight years and two terms as WSA president and if squash had been in the Olympics, I would have gone for the third term. Now, my term ends at the end of the year. I feel that squash should have been in the Olympics. Both times external factors were responsible for squash not making it through.

The first time, when Dr. Jacques Rogge was the president of the IOC, Europe was in recession. So they needed revenue to shore up their finances. The second time around it was wrestling. Wrestling got thrown out in February and reinstated in September, which was a decision not liked by many.

Then we had the new president, Dr. Thomas Bach, who came in for the 2020 reforms, and we felt we had a chance, a little window of opportunity. We tried our best.

To be very honest, I have given my all, in terms of energy, time, motivation and passion. Maybe I didn’t do it well — the fact is at the end of the day I failed. I have to admit that. Maybe somebody else will come with better ideas and I wish them best of luck. That is my view because you cannot mope about it all the time.

It is sad that when I am president I was not able to get squash into the Olympics. Maybe there is something which I didn’t do properly.

I am being frank. I have to accept the fact that in my time I was not able to bring squash into the Olympics, which had been my single-minded aim as far as the game was concerned. Maybe I didn’t do it the way it should have been done. Time changes, may be I am old-fashioned, I don’t know.