The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to lift the ban on India’s Olympic Association (IOA), allowing the country to return to the Olympic fold, officials say.
The IOC suspended India for electing officials accused of corruption in 2012, in breach of the Olympic charter.
But on Sunday the IOA conducted fresh elections which were seen as fair.
The IOC has lifted the ban on IOA, allowing India to return to the Olympic fold
Indian athletes have been competing at the Sochi Winter Games under the IOC flag but can now do so under their own.
“The decision means Indian athletes can compete for their national Olympic committee. They can walk behind their national flag at the closing ceremony,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
“The Indian flag will be raised in the [Sochi Winter Games] village, at a time to be announced,” Mark Adams added.
Indian athletes participating at next month’s Winter Games in Sochi will compete under the Olympic flag, not their national flag.
The three Indians who qualified for the Sochi Games will compete as “independent” athletes, rather than represent their country, after India’s Olympic body failed to schedule elections before the start of the Olympics on February 7.
The Indian Olympic Association was suspended by the IOC in December 2012 for electing tainted officials, notably secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, who spent more than 10 months in jail on corruption charges related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
The IOC said last month it would lift the suspension once new elections are held. The Indians have set their general assembly for February 9, two days after the opening of the Sochi Olympics.
“Following the executive board decision in December, the IOC is considering all necessary arrangements for the Indian athletes who have qualified for the Sochi Games to take part as Independent Olympic Participants under the Olympic flag,” the IOC said in a statement on Thursday.
Indian athletes participating at next month’s Winter Games in Sochi will compete under the Olympic flag
The trio includes Shiva Kesavan, a 32-year-old luger who will be appearing in his fifth Winter Games.
Shiva Kesavan told Indian media that not being able to compete under the national flag was “shameful and pathetic”.
“It is a sad and embarrassing situation that Indian sport has been put in,” he said.
“People around the world know about the failure of our systems and about corruption and bad governance in sports.”
Under pressure from the IOC, the Indian body amended its constitution last month to ban corruption-tainted officials from running for election. Had India not complied, it would have become the first country expelled from the Olympics since South Africa was kicked out more than 40 years ago.
The IOC has made provisions for athletes to compete under the Olympic flag at previous games.
Athletes from the former Netherlands Antilles and marathon runner Guor Marial of South Sudan competed as independents at the 2012 London Olympics. Athletes from East Timor marched under the Olympic flag at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Addressing the delegates of the European Olympic Committees at the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Francis has warned that the commercialization of sport may undermine its spiritual values.
Pope Francis told Olympic leaders that looking for profit and victory at all costs risked reducing athletes “to mere trading material”.
“Sport is harmony, but if money and success prevail as the aim, this harmony crumbles,” the Pope said.
The pontiff has struck a different tone to his predecessor on a range of issues.
Pope Francis said recently the Church was too focused on preaching about abortion, gay people and contraception.
He played basketball as a young man and is a keen supporter of his local San Lorenzo football club in Buenos Aires.
Pope Francis told Olympic leaders that looking for profit and victory at all costs risked reducing athletes to mere trading material
Pope Francis had two days of meetings with leaders of the world of sport. He met Sepp Blatter, the head of the International Football Federation (FIFA) and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
He has also been talking about the spiritual values of team games with the rugby squads of Italy and Argentina – ahead of their encounter in Rome.
“Rugby is like life because we are all heading for a goal. We need to run together and pass the ball from hand to hand until we get to it,” Pope Francis told the rugby players.
Addressing the delegates of the European Olympic Committees at the Vatican on Saturday, the Pope said: “When sport is considered only in economic terms and consequently for victory at every cost, it risks reducing athletes to mere trading material from whom profits are extracted.”
Thomas Bach presented the Pope with the Olympic Order in Gold, telling him: “You truly understand the joy in human spirit that sport can bring but just as much the deeper values that it can nurture.”
Sepp Blatter gave Pope Francis a special Latin edition of the FIFA magazine.
Thomas Bach has been elected as the new president of the International Olympic Committee.
Thomas Bach, a 59-year-old lawyer and former fencing gold medallist, replaces 71-year-old Jacques Rogge, who is standing down after 12 years in charge.
The German was the favorite of the six candidates considered for the post in Buenos Aires.
He begins an eight-year term as president, with the possibility of a second, four-year, mandate.
“I’d like to thank all my dear friends and colleagues who voted for me,” said Thomas Bach, who is the ninth president in the IOC’s 119-year history.
“This is an overwhelming sign of trust and confidence.
Thomas Bach has been elected as the new president of the International Olympic Committee
“I know of the great responsibility of being IOC president. This makes me humble.
“I want to lead according to my motto: <<unity in diversity>>. This means I will do my very best to balance all the different interests of stakeholders of the Olympic movement.”
Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, congratulated Thomas Bach on his election success.
“Thomas is a long-time advocate of the Paralympic movement and we look forward to working with him to further develop our relationship in the coming years,” he said.
Also in the running were Singapore’s Ng Ser Miang, Wu Ching Kuo of Taiwan, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, Ukrainian athletics legend Sergey Bubka and Swiss Denis Oswald.
Boxing chief Wu Ching Kuo was eliminated after the first round, leaving five contenders in the final round of voting.
Thomas Bach gained 49 votes ahead of Richard Carrion (29), Ng Ser Miang (6), Denis Oswald (5) and Sergey Bubka (4).
Prior to the vote, Thomas Bach said his first priority if elected would be to ensure the smooth delivery of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, which have been subject to delays, budget overruns and concerns over the warm weather.
The official Olympic flag has arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Games.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes waved the flag after stepping off the plane with other officials and Brazilian athletes who competed in London.
The flag was handed to Eduardo Paes on Sunday in London before the flame at the Olympic Stadium was extinguished.
The move marks the official start of Rio’s preparations for the 2016 Games.
Arriving on Monday with the flag, Eduardo Paes was accompanied by Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the 2016 Games Organising Committee, Rio Governor Sergio Cabral, and the country’s team of athletes.
The official Olympic flag has arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Games
Brazil finished 22nd in London 2012, winning 17 medals, two more than its previous best in Beijing.
Rio de Janeiro will be the first South American city to host the Olympics. The city has yet to construct the Olympic Park and other venues, and many have expressed concern about how much work there is to do ahead of the event.
During a visit in June, members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that timelines were “already very tight” and that “the amount of work to be completed is considerable”.
Worries about Olympic readiness are not new, but that not since Athens have there been so many questions about a host’s ability to stage the Olympics.
The transport system in Rio already struggles to serve its six million people.
But Eduardo Paes has promised to transform the city’s infrastructure, and the government says all of the Olympic venues will be finished a year before the games start.
They will be helped by the fact that they have something of a dress rehearsal, when the World Cup arrives in Brazil in 2014.
As the delegation touched down, a group of demonstrators were gathered outside the airport in Rio to protest against planned evictions connected to the Olympics planning, according to the Associated Press.
The London Olympics were brought to a close on Sunday night with a spectacular musical ceremony, featuring some of the biggest names of British pop, including the Spice Girls, George Michael and Elbow.
In a separate development on Monday, a female athlete from Belarus was stripped of her gold medal in the London Olympics after failing two drugs tests.
The shot putter, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, was the first athlete to lose a medal in the 2012 Games due to doping.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has asked South Korea to bar footballer Park Jong-woo from the bronze medal ceremony after he held up a political message after the team beat Japan.
The slogan was said to refer to a long-running dispute about islands which both South Korea and Japan claim.
The IOC says it is holding an inquiry.
Friday’s match came hours after South Korea’s president visited the islands, known as Dokdo in South Korea and as Takeshima in Japan, sparking a row.
The move prompted Japan to recall its ambassador in Seoul.
IOC has asked South Korea to bar Park Jong-woo from the bronze medal ceremony after he held up a political message after the team beat Japan
South Korea won the Olympic football bronze medal by beating Japan 2-0.
The IOC says that after the game, a player was photographed brandishing a sign allegedly asserting South Korea’s sovereignty over the islands.
The committee urged the South Korean Olympic committee to take “swift action on this issue” and said the player should not be present at the medal ceremony, which took place on Saturday.
A Korean Football Association official later named him as Park Jong-woo, 23 – who was not present at the ceremony.
Football’s governing body, FIFA, said it had opened a separate investigation to discipline him.
The official told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that Park Jong-woo had taken the sign – which reportedly read “Dokdo is our land” – from a fan after the match, stressing that the incident was not pre-planned.
“Park was running around with the banner which he got from the crowd. We saw the message on the banner so we quickly took it from him,” the unnamed official is quoted as saying.
The statutes of both the IOC and FIFA prohibit political statements by athletes and players.
Friday’s visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the islands was strongly criticized by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
“It is contrary to our nation’s stance that Takeshima is historically – and under international law – an integral part of our national territory, and is completely unacceptable,” PM Yoshihiko Noda said.
The uninhabited islands, which are roughly equidistant from the two countries, are small but lie in fishing grounds which could also contain large gas deposits.
Reuters photographer Luke MacGregor’s perfectly timed snap captured the full moon forming a sixth ring in the Olympic display on London’s Tower Bridge.
The masterpiece quickly made the rounds online, with “Tower Bridge” becoming a top trending item on Twitter.
The perfectly aligned composition graced London’s skyline Friday night, on the bridge over the River Thames.
Reuters photographer Luke MacGregor’s perfectly timed snap captured the full moon forming a sixth ring in the Olympic display on London's Tower Bridge
Many praised the magnificent picture on Twitter, calling it “epic” and a “must see”.
But others couldn’t resist joking about the unsanctioned modification by nature of the logo, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) went to painstaking efforts to prevent the unlicensed use of its brand by local retailers.
“Moon taken to court by IOC for violating Olympic brand ban,” one Twitter user quipped.
The official Twitter account for the IOC did not tweet in response to the lunar insertion into the organization’s trademarked logo.
The five interlocking rings represent the five parts of the world involved in the global games.
The symbol was designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that Saudi Arabia will send two female athletes to compete in the London 2012 Games.
Sarah Attar will compete in the 800 m and Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani in the judo competition.
The Saudi authorities lifted a ban on women from the Gulf kingdom competing in the Games last month.
The public participation of women in sport is still fiercely opposed by many Saudi religious conservatives.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said it was “very positive news” and “an encouraging evolution”.
“I am pleased to see that our continued dialogue has come to fruition,” he said in a statement.
Sarah Attar from Saudi Arabia will compete in the 800 m at London Olympics
The IOC, keen to ensure “gender balance” at the Games, had been speaking to the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee about the issue.
Speaking from her training base in the US, Sarah Attar said: “It’s such a huge honour and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport.”
The inclusion of the Saudi women means that, for the first time in the history of the Games, there will be a female entrant from every competing nation.
Female athletes from Qatar and Brunei are also due to attend for the first time.
Brunei’s Maziah Mahusin will complete in the athletics, while Qatar has entered athletes into the swimming (Nada Arkaji), athletics (Noor al-Malki), table tennis (Aya Magdy) and shooting (Bahiya al-Hamad).
Bahiya al-Hamad is also set to carry the Qatari flag at the opening ceremony, in what she said was a “truly historic moment”.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the inclusion of Saudi women was a step forward.
“It’s an important precedent that will create space for women to get rights, and it will be hard for Saudi hardliners to roll back,” the organization’s Minky Worden said.
There is almost no public tradition of women participating in sport in Saudi Arabia, and officials have found it difficult to find athletes who could meet the minimum criteria for competing.
Officials have also said that female competitors will need to dress in such a way as “to preserve their dignity”.
This is likely to mean loose-fitting garments and a scarf covering the hair but not the face.
Joao Havelange, former FIFA president, was paid huge sums in bribes by collapsed marketing company ISL, court documents have revealed.
Joao Havelange received at least 1.5 million Swiss francs and executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira at least 12.74 million SFr.
The Swiss prosecutor’s report, published by FIFA, reveals the pair may have received up to 21.9 million SFr.
They are the only two FIFA officials named in the report.
Switzerland’s supreme court ordered the release of the documents identifying which senior officials took millions of dollars in payments from ISL, FIFA’s marketing partner until it collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001.
Joao Havelange, former FIFA president, was paid huge sums in bribes by collapsed marketing company ISL
The papers were released to five media organisations and detail the court settlement which closed a criminal probe of the ISL case in May 2010.
In November 2010, it was alleged that three senior FIFA officials, including Ricardo Teixeira, took bribes from Swiss-based ISL in the 1990s, though commercial bribery was not a crime in Switzerland at the time.
The documents concerning Joao Havelange also revealed that officials repaid 5.5 million Swiss francs to end the prosecution office’s investigation on condition their identities remain secret.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in October 2011 that he wanted to release the ISL dossier, despite his organisation seeking to deny access to its contents at the same time.
“FIFA is pleased that the ISL non-prosecution order can now be made public,” FIFA said in a statement.
Joao Havelange, now 96, was FIFA president for 24 years before being succeeded by Sepp Blatter in 1998. The Brazilian, who remains FIFA’s honorary president, has been treated extensively in a Rio de Janeiro hospital this year for septic arthritis.
Joao Havelange resigned his 48-year International Olympic Committee membership, citing health reasons, in December, days before the Olympic body was due to sanction him following its own investigation into wrongdoing connected to ISL.
Ricardo Teixeira, Joao Havelange’s former son-in-law, this year resigned as head of Brazil’s football federation and the 2014 World Cup organising committee, and gave up his FIFA executive committee seat, citing unspecified health and personal reasons.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has begun an investigation into claims Olympics representatives were willing to sell thousands of tickets for the London Games on the black market.
The IOC’s ruling executive board met after fresh claims by the Sunday Times involving more than 50 countries.
This included allegations that tickets for top events were available for up to 10 times their face value.
The IOC has referred the allegations to its independent ethics commission.
The Sunday Times submitted a dossier of evidence detailing claims that Olympic officials and agents had been caught selling thousands of tickets on the black market for up to 10 times their face value.
IOC has begun an investigation into claims Olympics representatives were willing to sell thousands of tickets for the London Games on the black market
The IOC could also review how Olympic tickets are distributed among member countries – more than one million were distributed to those taking part in the Games.
The Sunday Times alleges, during a two-month investigation in which reporters posed as Middle Eastern ticket touts, it found corruption involving people representing 54 separate countries.
More than one million London 2012 tickets were distributed abroad among all the nations taking part in the Games, but the IOC has strict rules to try to combat touts.
National Olympic committees must ensure that their allocation is only sold within their own region.
Last month a senior Ukrainian Olympic official resigned after being filmed by the BBC offering tickets for cash.
The IOC said in a statement: “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has moved quickly to deal with allegations that some National Olympic Committees (NOC) and Authorized Ticket Resellers (ATR) have broken rules relating to the sale of Olympic tickets.
“The IOC takes these allegations very seriously and has immediately taken the first steps to investigate.
“Should any irregularities be proven, the organization will deal with those involved in an appropriate manner.
“The NOCs are autonomous organizations, but if any of the cases are confirmed the IOC will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions.
“The IOC has also determined that it will take on board any recommendations coming out of the inquiry to improve the way that tickets are allocated and sold internationally in the future.”
London 2012 organizing committee LOCOG said it would support the IOC in its investigation “in any way we can”.
“Rules and regulations for selling London 2012 tickets to international fans are clear and unambiguous,” it said.
No tickets intended for the British market were involved, it added.
Olympic flame which will be used for the London 2012 torch relay has been lit during a ceremony in Olympia, Greece.
The flame was kindled by a “high priestess” who captured the morning sun’s rays in a parabolic mirror.
The ceremony came amid political and economic turmoil in Greece, the home of the Ancient Olympics, where a week-long leg of the relay will be held.
The flame flies to Britain on 18 May for a 70-day relay around the UK.
The lighting ceremony took place in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera, next to the ancient stadium.
Actresses playing Olympic priestesses danced and men dressed as heralds put on a display symbolizing athletic strength.
“High priestess” Ino Menegaki then lit the flame in the bowl-shaped mirror and used it to light a Greek Olympic torch.
The flame – an Olympic symbol meant to represent purity because it comes from the sun – was then placed in an urn and taken to the stadium where the ancient Olympic Games were staged.
Olympic flame which will be used for the London 2012 torch relay has been lit during a ceremony in Olympia, Greece
LOCOG Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos were in Olympia for the moment marking the countdown to London 2012.
Lord Sebastian Coe said: “Today is the rallying call to the athletes – the best athletes of their generation – to come to London. That in itself is a big moment because it’s the biggest sporting event in the calendar.”
He told assembled Greek and Olympic dignitaries and a crowd gathered on the slopes of the stadium: “We are reminded this morning of sport’s enduring and universal appeal, and the timeless Olympic values that transcend history and geography; values which, I believe, in these challenging times are more relevant than at any time before and particularly to young people the world over.
“In 1948, shortly after the Second World War, my predecessor stood where I am today and made the first tentative steps in turning the world from war to sport.
“We find ourselves in challenging times again and turn to sport once more to connect the world in a global celebration of achievement and inspiration.”
In the stadium, it lit the London 2012 torch of Liverpool-born Greek world champion 10 km swimmer Spyros Gianniotis, who will carry it on the first leg of the relay around Greece.
He passed it on to Alex Loukos, 19, the first British torchbearer, a boxer and, in 2005, one of a delegation of east London schoolchildren who travelled to Singapore as part of London’s final bid for the Games.
Alex Loukos said: “It feels like I’m coming full circle.
“I went out to Singapore before we even knew that we’d won the Games and now I’m here, sort of kicking it off. It’s a big honor and a privilege and I’m just trying to take it all in.”
The torch is due to travel 2,900 kms (1,800 miles) through the country, carried by 500 torchbearers, on a route circling the country and travelling out to Crete.
Greece has seen huge demonstrations of social unrest in previous months, sparked by financial chaos and efforts to reach a deal with the European Union on a bail-out for the Greek economy.
Talks to try to form a new government have been ongoing after elections on Sunday failed to produce a conclusive result.
Several international companies including BMW have stepped in to help fund the torch’s journey.
The Greek section of the 2012 torch relay ends at the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, on Thursday 17 May, where the flame is handed over to London Olympic Games organizers.
The stadium hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
The last torchbearers in Greece will be Greek weightlifter Pyrros Dimas and Chinese gymnast Li Ning – who lit the cauldron at the Beijing 2008 opening ceremony.
The 2008 Olympic torch relay, which travelled the globe, was dogged by pro-Tibet, democracy and anti-China protests.
The 2012 flame will travel straight from Greece to the UK on 18 May, flying into the Royal Navy airbase at Culdrose, near Helston in Cornwall.
The UK torch relay begins at Land’s End the following morning when three times Olympic gold medal-winning sailor Ben Ainslie will be the first to carry the torch on British soil.
He wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “It is a privilege for me to be asked but, more than anything, it is an exciting moment for the country.
“The arrival of the torch on home soil really brings home how close the Games are.”
Carried by 8,000 torchbearers, the Barber Osgerby-designed torch will cover 8,000 miles across all of the country’s nations and regions.
It is due to reach the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on 27 July to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.
For the ancient Greeks, fire was a divine element believed to have been stolen from the Gods.
A flame was first lit at the modern Olympics at the Amsterdam 1928 summer games, but it was not until Berlin 1936 that a torch relay route was set out from Greece to Germany.