Stunned could be an understatement, while describing the unprecedented situation caused by the derecognition of all National Sports Federations by the sports ministry.
Though there are arguments for and against this decision and the effect it is going to have, there is no denying that the ministry delayed granting annual recognition this time.
This is usually over by the end of the year, but this time, it took six months more. That too, to grant provisional extension.
In a February order, the Delhi High Court said, “The Court further directs that both the IOA and MYAS will, hereafter while seeking to take any decision in relation to the NSFs, inform the Court in advance.”
The Bench termed the ministry’s decision to grant provisional recognition to 54 federations without intimating the court an “overreach”.
It was an embarrassing moment, which could have been avoided. The ministry just had to file an affidavit in court before granting provisional recognition.
And the Covid-19 lockdown was a good enough excuse for granting provisional extension. The ministry is apparently mulling approaching the Supreme Court to allow it to take decisions on NSFs without intimating the Delhi High Court in advance, but that can be a tedious process.
Though under normal circumstances, the derecognition could have severely affected various national competitions and the process of sending athletes for overseas training and competitions, due to the lockdown, that embarrassment can be avoided.
Usually, the ministry takes care of the athletes’ training and funding which will now be directly transferred to the players instead of going through federations. In any case, the ministry does not fund federations, except for hosting nationals.
Even when federations were derecognised in the past, training of athletes continued. However, with as many as 54 federations derecognised, accounting will become a daunting task. Most of the funds usually come through the schemes of Sports Authority of India.
So if athletes have to train, schemes have to be changed or diverted. The immediate future is crucial and steps must be taken before sporting activities begin. Once normalcy returns, derecognition will create confusion.