New Delhi, January 24: In a big boost to Indian archers' preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, the world body conditionally lifted the suspension on India, less than a week after the embattled national federation held its elections.
While lifting the ban, World Archery instructed the Archery Association of India to make changes in its constitution regarding athlete membership, resolve governance issues and develop a strategic plan. It also asked AAI to furnish a quarterly progress report on these issues.
"World Archery has conditionally lifted the suspension of the Archery Association of India following elections in New Delhi on 18 January. The decision was made by executive board postal vote," the WA said in a statement.
"Indian archers are allowed to compete in World Archery events as of Thursday 23 January 2020. The federation has been instructed to update its constitution to clarify athlete membership, develop a strategic plan and resolve other governance issues. A progress report is required every three months," the WA statement added.
The faction ridden AAI had been suspended since August 5, with the Indian athletes only allowed to compete under a neutral flag at events that directly affected their qualification chances for the Olympics. But after Thursday's lifting of the ban, the Indian archers are now free to compete under the Indian flag. The next international tournament is Indoor World Series in Las Vegas in three weeks' time. India currently has three men's and one women's quota place at 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
World Archery secretary general Tom Dielen said: "We hope this is the start of a well-governed association in India and will help, where necessary, to develop the strategy that will accomplish this. "Indian athletes can now focus on getting ready for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which is now just six months away."
In a separate letter to new AAI president Arjun Munda, Dielen said the world body has accepted the elections of the national archery body held here on January 18.
"We hereby congratulate you on your election as President which was held based on the decisions of the High Court of India and which was a proper election process based on the report of our observer," the WA secretary general said.
Dielen added that the decision of the WA Executive Board to conditionally lift the ban on AAI was a "unanimous" one.
The WA top official also said that the conditional lifting of the ban was only the first step in the process of ensuring good governance of the AAI.
"The newly elected (AAI) Board needs to work on a new Constitution that addresses the matter of membership of athletes that is currently not covered and which is essential for the AAI to remain a member," Dielen said while elaborating the conditions to be fulfilled by the AAI.
He said under article 2.2.1 of the World Archery rule book, it's essential for athletes to be affiliated with the AAI directly or indirectly.
"There are other constitutional matters that still need to be addressed to have the association receive once more the recognition of the Government of India and there is also the matter of the inclusion of one of the states that was pending resolution of the current process.
"World Archery also insists that a strategic plan is put in place to make sure that Indian archery makes real progress. World Archery will assist the AAI with these matters if requested," Dielen said.
He also asked Munda to "inform World Archery on the process of the next General Assembly which should adopt this new constitution".
Union Minister Munda was elected as AAI president here on Saturday in the polls held on the orders of the Delhi High Court. World Archery and Indian Olympics Association had sent their observers for the elections.
With support of former AAI president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who claims to have a majority in the national archery administration, Munda had a smooth sailing as he defeated his rival BVP Rao by 34-18 votes in Saturday's elections.
World Archery had suspended the AAI on August 5 for defying its guidelines by electing two parallel bodies. The two factions of the AAI had held separate elections simultaneously in New Delhi and Chandigarh on June 9 last year to elect two presidents -- Munda and Rao.
That led to the suspension of the AAI, which meant that the Indian archers failed to compete at the South Asian Games in Nepal in December last year and were allowed at the Asian Championships in Bangkok as 'neutral athletes' only because the event was a continental Olympic qualifier.