India returns to the Games as IOC lifts ban

Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:09am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - India has returned to the Olympic fold after the IOC lifted a ban on the country's Olympic association on Tuesday, and its athletes will now be able to march behind the Indian flag at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games.

The country's athletes have been competing in Russia under the Olympic flag due to the suspension, imposed after it held a 2012 Indian Olympic Association (IOA) election in which a corruption-tainted official was voted in as secretary general.

"It is the first time in Olympic history that a suspension of a National Olympic Committee has been lifted during the Games," International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told reporters.

He said the IOC had discussed the matter early on Tuesday and ruled that elections held on Sunday had fulfilled all criteria for the country's immediate reinstatement.

"We observed the general assembly (on Sunday). We are happy with the changes," Adams said, adding the IOC's prerequisite to ban any tainted officials from elections had been fully met.

On Sunday, the IOA voted in a new set of officials with World Squash Federation chief N. Ramachandran elected president, paving the way for the Olympic reinstatement of the world's second most populous nation.

All India Tennis Association chief Anil Khanna became treasurer in polls which marked the exit of corruption-tainted Abhay Singh Chautala and Lalit Bhanot from the IOA.

GREAT NEWS   Continued...

India's Shiva Keshavan prepares for the start during the men's luge training at the Sanki sliding center in Rosa Khutor, a venue for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics near Sochi February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch