In a bid to clear conflict of interest issues, the Sports Ministry has written to five former Indian sportspersons to resign from their posts as national observers which they were appointed to a year ago. However, the Ministry official seems to have goofed up the names as three of the five players mentioned have already given up the government post, according to a report by The Tribune.
The letter was addressed to Karnam Malleswari, Anju Bobby George, Abhinav Bindra, PT Usha and Kamlesh Mehta. But the last three had already put down their papers a few months ago.
While George’s academy is still under construction, Malleswari is involved with an academy run by her husband in Yamunanagar, Haryana, according to India Today.
“Subsequent to your appointment as national observers it has been brought to the notice of this ministry that you are either running academies/training centres or associated with such centres. With a view to avoid any possibility of conflict of interest, it would be appropriate that such person should not be continued as national observer. It is therefore requested that you may tender your resignation at the earliest,” the letter from Sports Ministry’s under-secretary AK Patro was quoted as saying. The letter was dated March 20.
However, there are two major issues with this.
Firstly, Bindra had stepped down as the National Observer for shooting as well as the chairman of Target Olympic Podium Scheme back in December, citing that he will be increasingly involved in private projects. Usha had similarly stepped down from the post a month later.
Secondly, this is supposedly contrary to the original idea behind the appointment. But the original guidelines for appointment as national observers had said that running a sport academy would not make one ineligible for the post, given they have no role in selection.
In March 2017, the Sports Ministry had appointed the national observers for 12 Olympic disciplines to oversee preparations of future editions of the Games. Apart from the five mentioned above, the list included Sanjeev Kumar Singh (archery), Aparna Popat (badminton), MC Mary Kom and Akhil Kumar (boxing), Jagbir Singh (hockey), Somdev Devvarman (tennis), Sushil Kumar (wrestling), IM Vijayan (football) and Khajan Singh (swimming).