Al Sabah re-elected as OCA chief despite probe

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, March 4: Controversial Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah has been re-elected as president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) for an eighth term despite being embroiled in a forgery case brought by Swiss investigators.

The long-serving Al Sabah, a powerful ally of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, was re-elected unanimously at the OCA general assembly in Bangkok.

An IOC member since 1992, Al Sabah stepped down from his roles in the global Olympic body in November, less than two weeks after the Public Prosecutor of Geneva submitted a forgery accusation to a criminal court against the Kuwaiti and four others.

Al Sabah had been head of Olympic Solidarity - the multi-million dollar IOC purse that funds sports projects globally - and the head of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).

Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda had been retained as an OCA Vice President despite being at the centre of a corruption probe brought by French financial prosecutors.

French investigators are probing a multi-million dollar payment made by Japan's 2020 Olympic bidding committee to a Singaporean consultancy and placed Takeda under formal investigation on December 10.

The OCA said its Ethics Commission had "reviewed" the cases of Al Sabah and Tsunekazu Takeda and that, based on the information available, no action would be taken.

The OCA also confirmed that they would invite a limited number of athletes from countries in Oceania to compete at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

The continental body had said in 2017 that they would allow around 300 athletes and 150 support staff from the Pacific Ocean countries to compete in sports whose qualification paths for the 2024 Paris Olympics went through Asia.

The OCA said that Oceania athletes from volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball, football and fencing would be invited to Hangzhou, a move welcomed by Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates, who has long lobbied for the move.

"Australia is very grateful for this opportunity which was confirmed this weekend and there will be enormous interest from our Oceania neighbours," Coates said.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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