The tussle over the Nepal Olympics Committee (NOC) is still raging on. This is evident from the fact that the incumbent leadership of the NOC is gearing up to register the Olympic Committee as an international non-government organisation at a district level administrative office of the far western region.
The new step to register the Olympic Committee as an INGO has been taken out of the fear that the change in the government and the National Sports Council always create controversies as the new leadership in the NSC tries to undermine the Olympic Committee’s existence under various pretexts.
Soon after the restoration of democracy in 1990, the Olympic Committee started experiencing troubles. Earlier, during the Panchayat System, the sports sector, including the NOC, was firmly under the control of the NSC member secretary. But after the restoration of democracy, the situation changed as individuals having loyalty to different political parties have started eyeing the positions in the NOC.
After the political changes of 1990, Rukma Shumsher Rana, a Nepali Congress loyalist, was appointed NSC member secretary. But he along with many other Nepali Congress supporters helped the then Minister of Education and Sports Govinda Raj Joshi to get the chairmanship of NOC. In the ensuing years when UML came to power, Rana was shunted from NSC but was able to do his best to win the NOC president’s post owing to his influence over the sports associations and his strong connection with the international sports bodies. As Rana had a wider influence and strong support base inside his NOC and outside, he enjoyed the president’s post for two consecutive terms.
But after the two terms, the then general secretary and now NOC president Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan, grew ambitious and his relation with Rana soured. Rana, who had earlier declared that he would not stay as president for more than two terms, did not contest the elections for the third term paving the way for Pradhan as the NOC boss in 2007.
But Pradhan’s tenure as NOC boss came under fire after the 2007 election was held despite the Supreme Court’s prohibitory stay order. Pradhan, however, continued as the president of NOC claiming that he had full backing of the International Olympic Committee and Olympic Council of Asia. Pradhan, former Inspector General of Police and a Rastriya Prajatantra Party loyalist, got the support of the then NSC member secretary Jeevan Ram Shrestha, who has still been holding the NOC general secretary post.
Despite being elected, the Pradhan-led committee has always been in trouble. Sometimes, the NSC officials and sometimes several other elements have been posing threats to the Pradhan-led body.
Although NOC does not make any investments in the development and promotion of sports in the nation it claims that it has the sole authority to control the sports in the nation just because the IOC and other sports bodies recognize it. The NSC has had a differing view: it contends that since it is the sole government sports regulatory body, it has all the rights to develop and help Nepali players and teams take part in the international tournaments.
The deepening rift between NOC and NSC came to the fore during 2006 Olympic Games when some officials had tried to bar NOC officials from leaving to Beijing to take part in the Olympics. Some players and officials had even staged protests at the international airport when the Olympic officials including the then education and sports minister were to leave for Beijing.
The Pradhan-led NOC, in other words, has been facing troubles in different forms from the time it was elected. This year, the committee held secret elections, far from the prying eyes of the media and general people, and elected unopposed the new committee under the same leadership. The secret elections were held out of fear that some "miscreants" would create another trouble if the elections were held in an open manner.
The very fear of being sidelined by some elements is the real motive that propelled Pradhan and his cronies to opt for getting NOC an INGO status, which is apparently against the regulations of the government, which clearly mentions that any sports institutions must come under the ambit of the government. But the Olympic officials abhor this regulation just because if they observe the regulation, they may face many troubles from the sports officials representing the government side.
Moreover, the strong backing from the international sports bodies, despite NOC officials’ anti-government regulation move, would continue to rain their support to the officials, in spite of the NOC getting its registration as an INGO. This is certainly going to start a new round of chaotic situation in the nation’s sports sector.