IT’S troublesome to seek out the right option to describe retired Lt Gen Arif Hasan, Pakistan’s Olympic chief since 2004. For a lot of of his supporters, he’s a supply of satisfaction; an sincere and honest sports activities persona. For his detractors and opponents, a person who’s relentlessly clinging on to energy.
In his 17 years on the helm of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), the nation has did not bag a single medal throughout 5 Olympic Video games. And with the Pakistan’s contingent coming back from the recently-concluded Tokyo Video games with no medal throughout their necks, requires Arif to step down have solely gotten louder. A lot so, that the federal government needs him to go.
The 72-year-old has seen that occur up to now. When operating for his third time period as president in 2012, a dispute noticed the formation of parallel POAs; one led by Arif which was recognised by the Worldwide Olympic Committee and the opposite headed by his long-time opponent retired Maj Gen Akram Sahi which was backed by the federal government. Then, Pakistan narrowly missed an IOC suspension after the federal government backed down and vowed to not intrude in issues of the Arif-led POA.
If something, it was a present of energy and foothold Arif loved within the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). Then, he was simply into his second time period as OCA vice-president for South Asia, having been first elected to that put up in 2007. In 2019, he acquired re-elected to that put up for a fourth time. Think about the affect he yields now ought to it come down to a different showdown between the IOC and the federal government. After all, having the assist of world sports activities’ largest kingmaker, OCA chief Shiekh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, helps.
That sense of safety is palpable when he speaks.
“It takes at the very least eight years to develop affect in continental our bodies after which utilise that to assist sport in your nation,” Arif advised Daybreak in a wide-ranging phone interview within the early hours of Tuesday, just some hours after he’d attended a marathon information convention in Lahore through video hyperlink from the US the place the POA had tried to defend itself in opposition to accusations made by the federal government.
“We’ve seven officers from Pakistan in several committees of the OCA and it’s after all useful when programmes are provided by the OCA for the Nationwide Olympic Committees,” he added. “We’ve labored arduous to attain that place and what we would like is that Pakistan stays on the forefront of worldwide sport.”
Arif is one in every of a number of officers from Pakistan who’ve risen to important positions at international governing our bodies however sport within the nation continues to be lagging far behind. And it wants no reminding that worldwide sport is a heady mixture of politics and corruption.
In 2017, Sheikh Ahmad, the longtime ally of IOC chief Thomas Bach, resigned from the FIFA Council — the decision-making physique of world’s soccer governing physique — following the discharge of paperwork launched by the US Division of Justice linked him to a bribery declare made by Asian Soccer Confederation official Richard Lai; the president of the Guam Soccer Affiliation pleading responsible to taking $1m in bribes.
A yr later, Sheikh Ahmad stepped apart from some Olympic positions — as an IOC member, and president of the worldwide group of nationwide Olympic our bodies ANOC — after being charged with forgery in an alleged Kuwait coup plot, the trial of which begins in Geneva from August 30.
Member associations are by and huge a microcosm of their related worldwide our bodies however Arif denies any form of wrongdoing throughout his tenure as POA chief and as a measure of transparency, stated the POA will make public its audited monetary statements.
“We’re writing to the IOC to conduct an intensive audit of the POA on the funding it receives from it,” he stated. “We conduct our audits by native corporations annually and studies are despatched to the IOC which scrutinises it earlier than releasing additional funding to us. The final audit of the POA by the IOC was carried out in 2016 and we’re asking them to look by our accounts totally during the last 5 years and as soon as the report is finalised, we’ll share it on our web site.”
Earlier, on the information convention, the POA had adopted the stance that it wasn’t certain by legislation to share its audited monetary statements. It added that the members of the omnipotent basic council, which elects the POA chief, are all proven the monetary statements.
‘NOT A CLOSED SHOP’
There have been questions in regards to the composition of the final council particularly on the collection of particular person members. There have been 14 of these in POA’s elective basic council assembly in 2019, from squash legend Jahangir Khan and hockey nice Islahuddin Siddiqi to politician Begum Ishrat Ashraf. Arif’s opponents allege that these members guarantee Arif retains a stranglehold over the POA presidency.
“All of the members have a sporting background,” Arif stated, including the final council “wasn’t a closed store”.
“We’re open and clear and the electoral faculty is verified by the IOC. We’ve illustration from federations, with three votes for Olympic sports activities federations and two votes from non-Olympic ones [like bodybuilding, tug-of-war and wushu], in addition to departments.”
Arif expressed sympathy for the nation’s federations and stated aside from the Pakistan Soccer Federation, which receives heavy funding from FIFA, others don’t get an excessive amount of.
“It’s a unsuitable notion that federations get quite a lot of funding from worldwide our bodies,” he stated, including that it was the federal government’s position to offer them with funds to arrange athletes.
“Funding for elite coaching all around the world comes from the governments that are utilizing sports activities as a comfortable energy and as a method of projection,” he stated. “In the event you take a look at the United Nations’ Sustainable Improvement Targets, 4 to 5 of them will be achieved by sports activities.
“The federal government doesn’t prefer it after we discuss that, about how we will develop sport within the nation,” added Arif, stressing that POA’s process was to “promote Olympism and never develop sport”.
On the information convention in Lahore, Arif’s POA distributed a 130-page file defining its position, on the position of the Pakistan Sports activities Board, in addition to attaching courtroom orders and a replica of the 2014 Lausanne Settlement between the federal government and the IOC. There have been additionally comparisons drawn to India’s sports activities price range.
Throughout the border, although, the Indian Olympic Affiliation has sought personal moderately than authorities funding and sought extra from the Olympic Solidarity programme. A Reuters report in 2014 cited India’s IOC member Randir Singh claiming the nation had acquired $1.2 million to fund its programmes forward of the London Olympics.
Pakistan has Syed Shahid Ali, the son of Arif’s predecessor Syed Wajid Ali, as an IOC member since 1996 and Arif was requested why the POA had not sought funding from Olympic Solidarity to develop athletes even though Sheikh Ahmad headed the fund.
“The IOC Solidarity takes care of 204 associations and it’s not that simple,” Arif contested. “We acquired IOC scholarships for the three shooters who represented Pakistan on the Tokyo Video games.”
Arif says he stays dedicated to serving to sports activities flourish in Pakistan however stays coy on his future plans and private ambitions. However with the POA structure requiring its high-ranking officers to retire upon attaining the age of 75, this could be his final time period as president.
He may not be there because the nation’s Olympic chief when the following Video games open three years from now however they are going to supply him an opportunity for redemption if the POA chalks out a plan which sees Pakistan finish its Olympic medal drought in Paris.
Printed in Daybreak, August twenty fifth, 2021