The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued a final warning to the national Olympic committee (NOC) of India over the continued delay of that body’s elections, threatening it with suspension from December if these do not take place, and has also suspended the NOC of Guatemala.

In an update issued yesterday (September 8), the IOC said that it would suspend the Guatemalan NOC with immediate effect from October 15, “if certain criteria are not met before that date”, and that, with regards to the Indian situation, it is postponing the IOC Session that was due to take place in Mumbai in May next year to September or October 2023 instead as a way of showing its displeasure with the lack of elections so far. 

Suspending the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) would mean that Indian athletes would no longer be able to represent their country under its own flag at the Olympics and at other international sports events and that the IOA would be “no longer entitled to operate as an NOC according to its role as defined in the Olympic charter.”

It would also stop receiving funding from the Olympic movement until the suspension is lifted, which would be a significant blow.

The body said that the Guatemalan decision, meanwhile, has been taken after that country’s constitutional court decided, last month, to suspend “a number of provisions of the NOC’s statutes and regulations, relating in particular to the NOC election process, for unclear reasons …”

This suspension came after NOC elections were held in that country in March this year, and came “despite the warnings sent by the IOC reiterating that the NOC must be able to operate in accordance with its statutes and the Olympic charter.”

The Indian NOC’s final warning, meanwhile, comes after the body’s executive board “received a report on the situation of the NOC highlighting the recurrent internal disputes and governance issues … which have caused delays in the holding of quadrennial elections …”

These elections should have taken place in December last year, and the fact that they still have not taken place has resulted in the last warning. 

The IOA will be suspended at the next IOC executive board meeting in December if the NOC is not able, by then, to: “Address and resolve its governance issues to the IOC’s satisfaction, in the interest of sport and the athletes, and operate properly through its governing bodies … and fulfill its obligations, in particular by holding its quadrennial elections in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”

The governing bodies mentioned refer to the executive committee and general assembly of the IOA.

The scheduled December 2021 elections have been held up by a court case concerning whether the IOA’s constitution should be changed to come in line with rules imposed by the Indian national sports code.

The IOC has said that later this month, it will organize a joint meeting for all parties concerned, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Olympic body has added that depending on decisions taken at its December meeting, its executive board will decide whether the 2023 session should be held in India at all, or whether it should be relocated.

The IOA has been suspended before, in 2012, after elections that year resulted in an official with a history of corruption being voted in as its secretary general.