Road clear for Narinder Batra to become IOA president after Anil Khanna pulls out

Since the last date of withdrawal of names was December 3, polls would still be held during the IOA Annual General body Meeting (AGM) on December 14, though the process now remains just a formality.

Narinder Batra is set to be elected as IOA president   -  PTI

International Hockey Federation president Narinder Batra is all set to take charge as president of the Indian Olympic Association as well after his only rival, Anil Khanna, withdrew from the race on Thursday.

Khanna, one of the three honorary life presidents of the AITA, wrote to the IOA members informing them of his decision.

However, since the last date of withdrawal of names was December 3, polls would still be held during the IOA Annual General body Meeting (AGM) on December 14, though the process now remains just a formality.

“In order to keep the IOA family united and to ensure that common friends are not put in a difficult situation while deciding who to vote for, I have decided to withdraw my candidature as president of IOA from the current election in favour of Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra,” Khanna wrote in his letter.

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“IOA has been one family so far, and the election this year is creating division. I have had an opportunity of discussing with many of you over the last eight days and also with some of our more experienced members who have led the IOA so far. Many do not want a division as they enjoy a warm relationship with both sides and find themselves in a difficult situation to finally decide whom to vote for,” he added.

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Batra welcomed the move. “It is important for IOA to remain united for the betterment of Indian sports. I welcome the decision and hope to do my best in making the IOA a vibrant organisation,” he told Sportstar soon after Khanna's decision was known. His continuation as the FIH president would not be impacted by the elevation to the head of a National Olympic Committee.

Interestingly, the IOA president has certain powers to co-opt members in the Associate category in the executive council and Khanna may be included later at the discretion of the president. “I will, however, continue to serve the IOA in whatever capacity the IOA family finally decides,” he wrote, indicating such a move was possible.

The third contender for the post, Weightlifting Federation of India president Birendra Prasad Baishya, had already pulled out before the
last date of withdrawal.