Fri, Aug 09, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Italy risking Olympic exclusion due to new law: IOC

AFP, LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Italy’s place at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games is in danger after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) warned the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) of “serious concerns” about a proposed new sports law.

The letter, which was addressed to CONI president Giovanni Malago and was seen by reporters, said that the legislation “would clearly affect the autonomy of CONI.”

The letter, disclosed on Tuesday in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, cited the fundamental principles of the Olympic movement, membership of which “requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.”

The new legislation would not conform to the Olympic charter, said Olympic solidarity and national Olympic committee (NOC) relations director James Macleod, who signed the letter.

He suggested amendments to the draft decree and emphasized that CONI should not, as the draft law proposes, be reorganized by “unilateral decision from the government.”

“CONI should be an autonomous and legally independent organization governed primarily by the Olympic Charter and its own statutes, within the framework of the applicable laws under which it is legally registered in the country,” he said.

A CONI official said that the situation was “complicated” after Italy’s parliament late on Tuesday adopted framework legislation following the publication of the letter.

The legislation authorizes the government to reform the organization, but lawmakers have insisted that the independence of CONI would be respected.

“We succeeded in passing a nonbinding resolution which authorizes the government to exercise its prerogatives while respecting the Olympic Charter,” Italian Senator Claudio Barbora was quoted as saying by Italian media.

Italian Council of Ministers Secretary Giancarlo Giorgetti, a close ally of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, said that the work of adopting formal legal decrees would continue.

“In the process, we will clarify all misunderstandings as shown in the letter from the IOC official,” he added.

Just a year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC letter warned that IOC heads had the power to suspend or withdraw recognition of a national Olympic committee “if the constitution, law or other regulations in force in the country concerned, or any act by any governmental or other body, causes the activity of the NOC or the making or expression of its will to be hampered.”

The IOC on Wednesday said that it has been in close contact with CONI over the issue.

“The IOC reiterated today its proposal to organize a joint meeting with CONI and the relevant government authorities in September in Lausanne,” a spokesperson said.

The aim of these talks was to “review the situation carefully and find a mutually acceptable solution to make sure that the new legislative framework will be fully compatible with the basic principles and rules of the Olympic Charter,” the spokesperson added.

The IOC’s warning came less than two months after Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo won the bid to host the 2026 Winter Games.

In 2015, in a case of government interference, the IOC suspended the Kuwait Olympic Committee. Its athletes participated under a neutral flag at the 2016 Rio Games. The suspension was lifted last month.

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