November 17 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued a warning to Sri Lanka's Government, reiterating that it should not get involved with the National Olympic Committee's elections, membership selection, rules and operations.
In the document addressed to the nation's Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, the IOC insists that the country's sports body is an independent organisation that must not be interfered with by the state.
"A National Olympic Committee is not a Government entity and must not be treated as such," read the letter seen by Sri Lanka's Sunday Times.
"It is an autonomous organisation with its own legal status, which is primarily governed by the Olympic Charter and its own Constitution.
"Its existence, as such, derives primarily from IOC recognition.
"The IOC is indeed the sole body that is entitled to recognise a National Olympic Committee and to authorise such."
The letter went on to also say that national sports federations must operate in the same way and explained that their "internal operations must be regulated by their respective constitutions in accordance with the rules of the respective International Federations to which they are affiliated".
"Sports legislation in a country certainly serves to establish a general framework and the interactions between all concerned partners at national level, however, it must not be used to regulate the internal operations or substitute for the respective constitutions of the National Olympic Committee and the national sports federations," it added.
"No national sports organisation is forced to be affiliated to or recognised by the corresponding international sports institutions.
"However, it is a prerequisite to participate in an international sports event, and if a national sports organisation decides freely to be part of the Olympic Movement at international level it must comply and be in a position to comply with the basic principles and rules of the international sports institutions.
"If not, there is no way for the country to be represented on the international sports stage."
Aluthgamage said he has forwarded the letter to the Attorney General for advice, and highlighted the fact that 80 per cent of the NOC's funding comes from the country's Sports Ministry, compared with only 0.1 per cent from the IOC.
"They have problems especially with the amendments made to the Sports Law," he explained.
"When an Act is passed in Parliament, that's law and anyone functioning here has to work according to the law."
However, the IOC said that this is not the first warning sent to Sri Lanka as it wrote to the NOC - another letter also allegedly seen by the Sports Ministry - in March this year to voice its concerns over Government interference, both "informally and diplomatically", at the 2010 World Sport Convention in Acapulco and the 2012 Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly in Macau.
Maxwell de Silva, secretary general of the Sri Lankan Olympic Committee, declined to comment on the letter, but did say that the NOC was responsible for the funding of its daily operations, while financial support from the nation's Sports Ministry meant it could send athletes overseas for competitions, such as the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
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