News > POA
To say that the state of sports in Pakistan is in decline would be an understatement. Just take a look at recent happenings: the country, which has won four world hockey titles, even failed to qualify for World Cup 2014. Pakistan’s cricketers lost to Zimbabwe – easily the weakest among all Test-playing teams – in a One-day International. In squash, Pakistan used to have five to six of its players in the top-10 world rankings but today it doesn’t have a single one in the top-40. The sad story spreads to other sports as well for a country that is proud of its past track record in the field of sports. In times like these, there is a clear need for a concrete and unified campaign to put things back on track. But instead, the country’s sports chiefs are embroiled in a power struggle that is threatening to push Pakistan sports towards further disaster.
The prize they are fighting for is the control of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), a body that reports to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – the supreme organisation in the world of sports. For that purpose a parallel POA was formed with government support earlier this year. It was immediately rejected by the IOC but the government continues to back it. Earlier this week, this body occupied the Olympic House – POA’s headquarters in Lahore – with the help of government machinery. This controversial move, which elected officials of the IOC-recognised POA believe is illegal, has pushed Pakistan to the brink of an international ban. The IOC is expected to respond sternly which means that Pakistan’s suspension is imminent. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. The government functionaries will have to stop taking sides in this power tussle and instead play a role in resolving this crisis. The POA is and will remain answerable to the IOC which means that it will only be allowed to function if it follows the Olympic charter. The government cannot take over the POA simply because the Olympic charter frowns upon any direct government interference in Olympic matters. It is time for those who instigated this crisis to back off. Otherwise things will only get worse for Pakistan’s sports.