The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to lift the ban on India’s Olympic Association (IOA), allowing the country to return to the Olympic fold, officials say.
The IOC suspended India for electing officials accused of corruption in 2012, in breach of the Olympic charter.
But on Sunday the IOA conducted fresh elections which were seen as fair.
The IOC has lifted the ban on IOA, allowing India to return to the Olympic fold
Indian athletes have been competing at the Sochi Winter Games under the IOC flag but can now do so under their own.
“The decision means Indian athletes can compete for their national Olympic committee. They can walk behind their national flag at the closing ceremony,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
“The Indian flag will be raised in the [Sochi Winter Games] village, at a time to be announced,” Mark Adams added.
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India has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ahead of elections in which officials accused of corruption were set to be appointed.
The IOC has declared the Indian Olympic Association election, which was set to take place on Wednesday, void.
“The election process has been tarnished since the start,” said IOC official Pere Miro.
The ban prevents athletes competing for India, which won six medals at London 2012, at future Olympics.
Two officials expected to be elected to senior IOA positions are closely linked to corruption allegations relating to Delhi’s hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody last year on corruption charges linked to the event, was set to be elected unopposed to the post of secretary general.
Abhay Singh Chautala was expected to be the IOA’s new president and he has close links to former incumbent Suresh Kalmadi, who is on bail over similar charges.
The IOA’s ban also means its funding from the IOC will be effectively ended, while no Indian officials can attend Olympic meetings.
India has been suspended by the IOC ahead of elections in which officials accused of corruption were set to be appointed
“They are not entitled to have elections and, if for some reason they go ahead, this will not be recognized,” added Pere Miro, who is in charge of IOC relations with national Olympic committees.
“This is because this is part of a full problem: many different interferences, many governmental rules and their own bad interpretation of IOA statutes.”
The IOA has been directed by a Delhi court to hold the elections adhering to the Indian government’s sports code, while the IOC wants the governing body to abide by the Olympic charter.
But Chautala insists the ban is “wrong and completely unilateral”.
“We’d go to the IOC again and explain to them the actual situation and the details of the election. This ban was completely thrust on us,” he said.
India’s only individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra believes the IOA deserves to be suspended.
“Bye bye IOA, hope to see you again soon, hopefully cleaner!” shooter Bindra, who won Beijing 2008 gold in the men’s 10m air rifle, said on Twitter.