General failure
Under Arif Hasanís watch, Pakistanís Olympic fortunes have worsened in the last eight years. Unfortunately, he continues to call the shots as POA chief
By Khalid Hussain  
London 2012 are Lt General (retd) Arif Hasanís third Summer Games as Pakistanís Olympic chief. It was at Athens 2004 that he first brushed shoulders with the high and mighty of world sports at various venues and VIP lounges in Athens as guest of the International Olympic Association (IOC). In his capacity as President of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), Hasan was also present at the Olympic Games in Beijing back in 2008. On both occasions, he saw his athletes flopping miserably in their feeble quest for Olympic medals. On both occasions, he promised a better tomorrow for Pakistan. On both occasions, he knew it was mere lip service.  

On collision course
By Alam Zeb Safi  
A perfect storm is brewing in Pakistanís sports fraternity. The thorny issue before the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) is the implementation of the National Sports Policy 2005 in the light of the Supreme Court order which it issued on May 8 this year.  
Some federations, including those of volleyball, handball, gymnastics and cycling, challenged a few clauses of the policy, particularly those relating to tenure restriction, in the Lahore High Court in August 2008.  

Cash crunch, cultural shocks and weather
By Hasan Junaid Iqbal  
The 1948 London Olympics were named Austerity Games in the midst of post-WWII rationing when visiting athletes had to bring their own food and towels and were housed in dormitories, hostels and RAF bases. There are a couple of hard, recession-lined realities, similar to those of 1948, to keep in mind as you follow this yearís Games in the British capital despite the high-tech glitz.  
One is that Londonís price tag ó approaching $17 billion in public outlays ó is far less than the previous Beijing Games and breaks a historical trend of escalating cost for hosting the Olympics.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General failure
Under Arif Hasanís watch, Pakistanís Olympic fortunes have worsened in the last eight years. Unfortunately, he continues to call the shots as POA chief
By Khalid Hussain

London 2012 are Lt General (retd) Arif Hasanís third Summer Games as Pakistanís Olympic chief. It was at Athens 2004 that he first brushed shoulders with the high and mighty of world sports at various venues and VIP lounges in Athens as guest of the International Olympic Association (IOC). In his capacity as President of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), Hasan was also present at the Olympic Games in Beijing back in 2008. On both occasions, he saw his athletes flopping miserably in their feeble quest for Olympic medals. On both occasions, he promised a better tomorrow for Pakistan. On both occasions, he knew it was mere lip service.

Hasan was fully aware that Pakistan would go to London 2012 with little or no hopes of winning an Olympic medal but he still talked about improvement after the Beijing debacle. If things donít change and the same people, including Hasan, stay at the helm of national sports affairs then I fear that there would be no hope for Pakistan at Rio 2016 either.

Excluding the countryís cricket chiefs, Hasan has arguably been Pakistanís key sports official for the last 12 years or so. Though he got elected as POA president in March 2004, Hasan was entrusted with the task of lifting Pakistanís sports fortunes by his former boss General (retd) Pervez Musharraf much before that. Hasan, when he was still a serving major-general, was at the helm of the South Asian Games which were finally held in Islamabad in 2004 after getting postponed for a few times because of security issues. Hasan also launched the so-called Pakistan Sports Trust (PST), a body that was supposed to place Pakistan firmly on the world sporting map. Hundreds of millions of rupees were raised and later spent on various projects from the PST platform but things have only gotten from bad to worse for sports in our country.

Hasan wanted PST to be the crown jewel of his sporting achievements. The ambitious project was launched with much fanfare but fell way short of its goals. Over the years, PST has faded into one of his biggest failures. With a long list of aborted targets and only hollow promises to defend them, Hasan seemed doomed for a crushing defeat at the POA election earlier this year. He was seeking a controversial third tenure and some experts were predicting that Hasan would fail against General Akram Sahi, Pakistanís athletics chief who was enjoying the powerful backing of Pakistan Army. Also in contention was Qasim Zia, Pakistanís hockey chief and member of the national team that won a gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

But Hasan, with the support of most national federations, retained his post as POA president for yet another term. It seems that Hasanís role model, when it comes to the POA job, is his predecessor Wajid Ali Shah. Wajid became POA chief in 1978 and managed to keep the position for 28 years before finally retiring in 2004 at the age of 93.

The problem with Pakistan sports is that there are too many people like Wajid Ali and Arif Hasan around, who are more interested in safeguarding their job than doing it.

A glance at Arifís tenure would tell you how Pakistan sports has declined during the last decade or so in spite of the fact that a lot of money was spent on it during that period. Back in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics, Pakistan reached the semifinals in hockey and missed the chance of winning a bronze medal narrowly. Several Pakistani boxers made the cut for Sydney 2000 and later for Athens 2004. There were no medals but at least there was hope. But all of that changed in Beijing, four years after Hasan took over as POA chief. Pakistan crashed to a catastrophic eighth-place finish in hockey, their worst showing in Olympic history. Other Pakistani athletes fared even worse than they did in the last two Games.

But wait, Pakistan sports was yet to hit rock bottom. For London 2012, Pakistanís hockey players were the only ones to make the Olympic cut. There would be five more Pakistanis featuring in the Games but all of them as Ďwildcardsí. Such entries are gifted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to those nations, who are unable to make the cut for the Games on merit. Based on their track record, itís a foregone conclusion that Pakistani athletes wonít really be able to make their presence felt in those events as they lag far behind most of the other competitors partaking in the Games.

Hasan would defend his case by saying that POA cannot be blamed for Pakistanís sports decline. He would cite the insufficient role played by PSB and various national federations. Thatís the sort of ostrich approach that has brought our sports on the brink of disaster. Either our sports officials donít see the problems staring them in the face or they just pass the buck.

The problem with Pakistan sports is that its slump is continuing unabated with no light at the end of the tunnel. Another major problem is that nobody at the helm of national sports affairs is serious in doing something about it. Itís true that POA is the only body responsible for the slump. There is the PSB, the sports ministry, the federations etc. But Hasan tops the list of culprits because he is perhaps the only one who has been there for a long time with enough resources to have managed at least some success.

Meanwhile, the London Games are on and there is excitement among sports fans in Pakistan, just like elsewhere on the globe. But there is also this sad feeling that our contingent will most likely be returning home empty-handed just like they did in Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).

Unless our hockey team pulls off a miracle in London, there is no hope for Pakistan. For a sports-crazy nation itís an unacceptable scenario. But thatís the way things are and thatís the way things would be unless some kind of positive change takes place. But that wonít happen till the time officials like Hasan are calling the shots.

Khalid Hussain is Editor Sports of The News, Karachi

khalidhraj@gmail.com

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Arif Hasan (centre)... was re-elected as POA chief for a third consecutive tenure earlier this year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On collision course
By Alam Zeb Safi

A perfect storm is brewing in Pakistanís sports fraternity. The thorny issue before the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) is the implementation of the National Sports Policy 2005 in the light of the Supreme Court order which it issued on May 8 this year.

Some federations, including those of volleyball, handball, gymnastics and cycling, challenged a few clauses of the policy, particularly those relating to tenure restriction, in the Lahore High Court in August 2008.

The LHC allowed the petitions of the federations and declared the tenure restriction clause unconstitutional in its judgment on October 28, 2010. The PSB challenged the decision of the LHC in the Supreme Court in January 2011 and after a few hearings the apex court set aside the LHC judgment, allowed the appeals of the PSB and thereby upheld the clauses of the Policy.

Hardly a few hours after the apex courtís verdict, the PSB issued a press release which said that all those office-bearers of the sports bodies enjoying third tenure stood dismissed with immediate effect.

The crux of the verdict is that the government can frame rules and implement them. According to the National Sports Policy, a single tenure of any member of the sports federation or association will be of four years only. President, honorary secretary and the treasurer will be allowed a maximum of two tenures in any office of the federation or association after which they will become ineligible for holding the same posts of that particular federation or association.

However, they will be allowed to contest for the next higher post of a federation or association at any time. Tenure restriction will not be applicable on the office-bearers of the federations holding posts of president or secretary of World or Asian federations.

If the tenure clause comes into effect, it will send home several long-standing office-bearers of the federations and associations.

Following the decision of the court, it was hotly debated whether the verdict is also applicable on the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). The POA is of the view that as it is not affiliated with the PSB it will not be affected by the decision of the apex court.

But for it the POA will have to come up with a legal proof that it is not affiliated with the Board.

The PSB decided in its special Executive Committee meeting in Islamabad on July 5, chaired by federal minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani: (1) All the federations are to implement the tenure restriction clause within two months while taking into account the IOC Charter and the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan;

(2) A committee will be constituted to review Pakistan Sports Board Rules 1981 Para 4 (II-a) and Para 4 (XI) to align them with the principles of the IOC Charter.

The POA was also told to clarify its position on the issue of affiliation and recognition with the PSB, not later than August 15, 2012.

In order to know exactly the case of the POA, the apex courtís judgment was also sent to the Law Ministry for review on the suggestion of the POA Chief Lt General (retd) Arif Hasan. The Board received the reply a week before its Executive Committee meeting.

The IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) after their joint meeting in Lausanne last month concluded that the government of Pakistan had every right to implement National Sports Policy 2005, including the clauses relating to tenure restrictions. IOC and OCA have recommended that the issue be resolved through dialogue with the national sports federations.

But IOC and OCA have raised objections over the provisions of the constitution of the PSB contained in Para 4 (II-a) and 4 (XI) which are tantamount to interference in the affairs of the national sports federations and associations.

They asked the Pakistani government to consider reviewing these paragraphs and making the PSB constitution in consonance with the IOC Charter.

It has exactly been done as the Board has formed a four-member committee for the review of these clauses. The two Director Generals of the PSB, the IPC Joint Secretary and a legal advisor are its members. But the POA says that the committee has been constituted without taking it into confidence.

The Rule 4 (II-a) says that the PSB has the powers to approve, amend and repeal the constitutions of the national sports federations and associations while the 4 (XI) says that the Board has the powers to take, with the approval of the president, such disciplinary action as may be necessary against any national games and sports organisations, including the amendment or suspension of its constitution and removal of any of its office-bearers in the interest of the games and in order to maintain discipline.

The PSB seem committed to implement the tenure restriction clause as it did not invite the office-bearers of federations affected by the court verdict to its Executive Committee meeting on July 5.

Federations have no option but will have to incorporate the tenure-restriction clause in their constitutions. At this stage, even if any federation tries to disaffiliate itself from the PSB, it will be a contempt of court. Even if any federation severs ties with the PSB it will not survive as the federations donít have an independent role in the sports development and they depend in totality on the financial assistance of the government.

Some say that very little amounts are given to federations, but they donít realise how much special grants federations are given in a calendar year.

But in the case of football, the PSB could face problem in implementing the tenure restriction clause as FIFA has already warned Pakistan of a ban through a letter if it found any political interference in the PFF affairs.

The world football governing body has already spent millions of dollars on infrastructure in Pakistan and it also gives the PFF around Rs50 million annually.

Insertion of tenure restriction clause in the constitutions of the federations is very important as it will play a vital role in the development of sports. By doing so, old faces, who no longer have the vigour and spirit to promote their respective sports disciplines, will be sent home. The decision will help bring fresh faces to serve the countryís sports better.

Pakistan has not lifted a medal in the Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona Games when the hockey team captured a bronze.

The countryís performance has also kissed extreme low in continental competitions, particularly the Asian Games. It is a pity that a few of the top sports personalities were seen in a picture along with the Pakistan hockey team in the Olympic village in London the other day. Keeping in view the condition of their sports back home they should not have gone there. But being joy-riders they enjoy their trips ó maybe because it is the only major benefit they get from their posts. POA chief says that the governmentís interference in the affairs of federations and the POA is against the IOC Charter and if the government committed any violation of the international laws IOC would ban Pakistan.

The question that arises here is: Who made him the POA chief eight years ago? Was it not General Pervez Musharraf? Why did IOC not take any action at that time against Pakistan when the government was directly involved in appointing the POA chief? And the POA chief himself violated the IOC Charter when he wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and the President recently, requesting them to stop PSB from interfering in the affairs of the POA and sports federations.

It is the right time for Hasan to think about his future as he has not achieved anything mentionable during his eight-year reign.

If, for instance, Hasan saves himself from the final punch of the PSB, still the incorporation of the tenure clause in the constitutions of the federations will weaken his position as he will lose his major associates.

He is also under pressure from some of his senior colleagues and if he fails to protect them, the scenario could be damaging for him.

Along with drastic changes in the civil sports structure, a few changes in the PSB top hierarchy are also needed as with the current set up it will not be possible to make any progress in the field of sports.

73.alam@gmail.com

 

 

 

Cash crunch, cultural shocks and weather
By Hasan Junaid Iqbal

The 1948 London Olympics were named Austerity Games in the midst of post-WWII rationing when visiting athletes had to bring their own food and towels and were housed in dormitories, hostels and RAF bases. There are a couple of hard, recession-lined realities, similar to those of 1948, to keep in mind as you follow this yearís Games in the British capital despite the high-tech glitz.

One is that Londonís price tag ó approaching $17 billion in public outlays ó is far less than the previous Beijing Games and breaks a historical trend of escalating cost for hosting the Olympics.

The other is that the London Olympics will see 538 fewer competitors than the 11,028 athletes who participated in Beijing. That represents the fewest participants in a Summer Olympics in 16 years, since the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

To cut costs at the 1948 ĎAusterityí Games, organisers relied entirely on existing venues, like the greyhound track at Wembley stadium. It was layered with cinder for the track and field competition.

As far as the city of London goes, thereís no cultural shocks kind of things, because the city is immune to all sorts of international cultures.

For Pakistani or Indian athletes, it shouldnít be any problem. The only thing they must avoid is calling a middle-aged lady Ďauntyí because thatís a big no-no.

The Games officially began last Wednesday and had the opening ceremony on Friday ó the biggest ever.Of course, controversies are part of every Olympics Games, and London is no exception.

If history is any guide, this Olympics will be sullied by scandal, most likely involving instances of athletes using drugs, biased judging or overzealous security officials. Then there is the threat of bad weather as well.

While Britainís wettest June in more than a century may have cast a cloud over the final preparations for the Games, forecasters say the weather is now set to brighten.

But in London, the formula of three Ws ó women, wealth and weather ó can bury you down without prior notice.

The most adorable thing about this Olympics is that the legendary Muhammad Ali showed up for the first time after the 1996 Atlanta Games. Half a century ago it was in Rome (1960) when Ali won the first heavyweight gold medal as Cassius Clay.

He became a divisive figure in the United States during the decade of 60s, after he converted to Islam and refused to be drafted for service in the Vietnam War ó for which he was stripped of his title. He remained defiant, regained the title and became known as, simply, ĎThe Greatestí.

ďThe cars are too small, the streets are too narrow ó I like open spaces ó and I havenít seen as many pretty girls like I do at home,Ē Ali said when he came to fight Henry Cooper in London in 1963. He defeated Cooper again in 1966 and, by 1971, on a promotional tour, was raving about how loved he felt in London.

ďI never realised how many people and followers of all ages, all races, religions and creeds I had following me,Ē he said. ďIíve never had so many admirers.Ē

hasan.junaid.iqbal@gmail.com

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LONDON: England football star David Beckham (right) and Muhammad Ali pose for a photograph during the Beyond Sport Summit here on Wednesday night


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