Suresh Kalmadi not allowed to attend London Olympics opening ceremony

New Delhi: Suresh Kalmadi will not be allowed to attend the opening ceremony of the London Olympics and cannot leave the country till July 27. Checking his plans, the Delhi High Court said that it “cannot remain a passive spectator.” Mr Kalmadi is President of the Indian Olympics Association, but has agreed that the organization will not be managed by him while he is being tried for corruption. He spent close to a year in prison on corruption charges related to his term as the chairman of the Organising Committee for the Commonwealth Games, held in India in 2010.

The court said today that it could not stop Mr Kalmadi from attending the Games in his individual capacity – but by banning him from travel till the opening ceremony takes place, that’s ruled out for the Lok Sabha MP. His lawyer had argued that he would not be representing the government at the Olympics.

Mr Kalmadi will, most likely, be able to travel to London in time to attend meetings of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). He is an elected member of its council, which is scheduled to meet on July 31 and August 10 in London on the sidelines of the Olympics.

Mr Kalmadi has been suspended by his party, the Congress. Sports Minister Ajay Maken had urged him to voluntarily skip the opening ceremony. Mr Kalmadi refused and suggested that Mr Maken resign instead. He pointed out that he remains the President of the Asian Athletics Association and is also an elected member of the council of the IAAF.

An organisation of former athletes, many of who have represented the country, had written to the International Olympic Committee to cancel his accreditation.

The High Court’s verdict is based in a public interest litigation (PIL) that said Mr Kalmadi should not be allowed to represent India in any way at the Olympics because he is being tried for corruption, and public money cannot be spent on him. The petitioner also said that his presence at the opening ceremony would violate the code of ethics of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

On July 13, a special CBI court had allowed Kalmadi to go to London from July 26 to August 12 for the 2012 London Olympics.

Mr Kalmadi and 10 others have been charge-sheeted by the CBI for hiring a Swiss firm at inflated prices for timing and scoring equipment for the Commonwealth Games. This allegedly cost the government 90 crore in losses.

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