Olympian swimmer Nisha Millet, who represented India at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, says the move is “absurd”.

Is Nita Ambani qualified to be a member of the IOC Sportspersons divided
news IOC Friday, August 05, 2016 - 13:49

When Nita Ambani emerged as the ownership face of the Mumbai Indians, not many were surprised. She is the celebrity wife of the team’s owner, Mukesh Ambani, and IPL is more entertainment than it is sport.

But, the International Olympic Committee? What qualification does she have to be a part of it?

After being nominated in June by the IOC Executive Board, Nita was elected by IOC members at the 129th Session of the world body, just a day before the opening ceremony of the 31st Olympics Games in Rio.

52-year-old Nita is the only current active individual member of the IOC from India and she will serve at the high-profile world body until she attains the age of 70.

Not everyone is happy with her appointment.

Olympian swimmer Nisha Millet, who represented India at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, says the move is “absurd”. 

“We should have had a former sportsperson of some repute, a senior athlete, a coach or someone who contributed to sports in India. Instead, we have an industrialist, no, the wife of an industrialist representing India on such a prestigious platform. She has no connection with sports or sportspersons,” Nisha told The News Minute. 

She said that India had great sportspersons and athletes who could have been made its representatives at the IOC. Offhand, she named Ashwini Nachappa who already worked with the IOA, and Prakash Padukone. “I want to know who recommended her name. it was rather foolish of IOA.”

But Nita has her supporters too.

“It is very encouraging that she has been appointed, I hope she has time to talk about Indian sports regularly,” says V Bhaskaran, an Olympian Hockey player from India.

When asked if Nita was qualified, he says, “She is fit enough. There are so many bureaucrats who do nothing. She is better than them. She is approachable and has been involved with sports for a few years now.”

He adds however that she should be directly involved in the administration, “But she should try to be involved in it directly, not just be in an advisory position. She should ensure that sports are played in every school in India.”

 Ambani-owned Reliance group has been involved in sports and entertainment for several years now, does her appointment have any direct benefit to the business conglomerate?

“I don’t see any conspiracy here, but Reliance has been involved with sports for a long time now. I see this only as an extension of their strategy to spread their reach in sporting industry,” says Subir Ghosh, senior journalist and researcher, and author of Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis. “It has always been the bane of sports in India that committees are dominated by people who have nothing to do with the sport.”

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