Mumbai: Differences of opinion within the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) over sending an observer for the elections of the newly formed Boxing Federation of India on 25 September resulted in none present at the Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana in Kandivli, the venue of the elections and AGM.
It was learnt by PTI through copies of official communication between IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta and president N Ramachandran that while the former wanted to send an observer he was vetoed by the latter.
Ramachandran sent a mail to Mehta on September 24 saying there was no need to send an observer and the reason he gave was that the IOA needed to "respect the decision taken by the members at the IOA AGM."
Mehta had earlier pointed out to Ramachandran that boxing "is a priority sport and is in limelight for non-existence of a recognised federation for quite some time now."
Mehta had also mentioned in his mail that the IOA was working with an ad hoc body (approved by world boxing body AIBA) and salaries of all officials, expenses and office space was being provided to the ad hoc body by IOA and not to any elected body.
Mehta had also said that the entry of the boxing team at the August Rio Olympics "was finalised and sent to IOA by the ad hoc body."
"Moreover, IOA has also received instructions from IOC to support the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) to send an observer from IOA for the election meeting being held on 25th September, 2016 in Mumbai," Mehta wrote in his mail to Ramachandran.
"Government of India has also recognised the ad hoc body recognised by AIBA and also sent their observer for the election meeting.
"As you may recall that IOA didn't approve the affiliation of Boxing India because the International Federation didn't invite IOA observer for the meeting. Now the International Federation (AIBA) as well as IOC has requested IOA to send their observer," Mehta wrote to Ramachandran.
Mehta had also said that boxing in India was suffering due to an absence of a permanent governing body and if IOA did not provide an observer it will "attract great criticism and all the blame for non performance and creating hurdle in the promotion of sport will come to IOA."
"Keeping in view of the above and based (on) the directions of the IOC we should resolve this issue by sending our observer to the elections," the secretary general had concluded.
All his views seems to have not shaken Ramachandran's resolve who wrote back to Mehta that "the affiliated federation for boxing with the IOA is the IABF (Indian Amateur Boxing Federation). This has been reconfirmed by the IOA members in the AGM held in Chennai."
"Under these circumstances it will be legally incorrect if we send any observer from IOA to attend any meeting of any other body for Boxing."
The IOA, subsequently, did not send any observer for the elections at which businessman Ajay Singh was elected as the president of the Boxing Federation of India with a huge majority and the elections were declared "free and fair" by AIBA's senior Vice-President Edgar Tanner, who had been sent as observer by the world body, as well as the sports ministry-deputed observer.
Ramachandran had also received a request nine days before the elections from AIBA President Ching-Kuo Wu to send an observer for the BFI elections.
"In reference to the subject, the International Boxing Association, AIBA, would like to formally request the Indian Olympic Association to have a representative present on September 25th in Mumbai for the elections of the interim ad hoc committee that has been representing boxing in India," Wu wrote to Ramachandran.
"While AIBA is the only organisation that may recognise the elections as outlined in the AIBA statutes and bylaws, we believe that the IOA should have a delegated observer at the elections as a gesture to restore leadership to the boxing movement in India.
"We trust that IOA will agree to send a representative and work with the ad hoc committee at this stage to benefit the advancement of boxing within India. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your attention and consideration on this matter and look forward to your prompt response," Wu added in his mail to the IOA chief.