Further to the exposure in your newspaper by Jayantha Gunawardena on the control of the so-called National Olympic Committee (NOC) by shadowy businessmen, very few readers are aware that the current office bearers of this Committee are claiming that they are above the Sri Lankan laws, our Sports Ministry has no power to intervene in their affairs and their actions are unreviewable.
They say they are only answerable to the International Olympic Committee. Even their financial accounts are kept a secret and are not answerable to any local institution including the newspapers. They operate like a separate state within Sri Lanka!
I say our Olympic Committee is a big farce because we are nowhere near the international performance standard when it comes to athletics. It has become a place for egos, social climbing and personal enrichment.
The officials travel to various conferences and events on a monthly basis on Olympic funds which are meant for developing athletes. Their wives and family members accompany them. As they are doing such service to sports they claim they should travel Business class! These officials pay themselves huge travel allowances. But what has all this done for our sports?
For Sri Lanka, Olympic medals are only a distant dream. But how about the more modest Asian Games and even SARRAC Games? For a 20 million population, here too our performance is much below standard. At the 2018 Asian Games we could not win a single medal!
How the Olympic Committee is manipulated by its office bearers can be seen from how they have constituted its Selection Committee (to select athletes for international meets).
There are two independent officials on this committee. One is a representative from the Sports Ministry, a public servant with no idea of the politics of sports and wheeler dealing that takes place. The other independent member is the Army Commander who is brought there cunningly for prestige value and to give the committee some legitimacy. In fact the Commander is far too busy to attend these selection meetings and cannot have any idea of the vested interests of each sport.
The other three on the Olympic Selection Committee are Subramaniam (President of NOC), Maxwell De Silva (Secretary NOC) and Aasiri Iddamalgoda. All three are from the Tennis Association and have been around for about two decades as officials of tennis.
Both Subramanaim and Maxwell Silva are former Presidents of the Tennis Association. Despite their long involvement, Sri Lankan Tennis standard is at a very basic level and does not qualify to compete at high level international tennis competitions. All three claim to have represented the country at tennis, which considering its amateur level, is no surprise!
But why is tennis, which is an insignificant sport in this country, dominating the Olympic Selection Committee?
The only hope for the sports-loving public is that the media expose the manipulation happening in our sports and make it possible for true promoters of sports to emerge. (Nihal Weeraman)