Italy is the latest country to run afoul of the Olympic regulations following the Italian Senate’s decision to enact new laws curtailing the powers of the Italy Olympic Committee (CONI).
The passage of the new law would empower the government to reorganize CONI, its activities as well as its internal organization.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has earlier this month issued a warning that Italy would be at the risk of being booted out of next year’s Summer Olympics.
The perceived government interference may also jeopardize Italy’s ability to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The approval of the controversial new law would also see government funding to CONI slashes drastically.
Much of the government funding would now be funnelled into the newly formed Sport e Salute, a state owned company under the Ministry of Economy.
The annual CONI budget of 408 million Euros has not been slashed to just 40 million Euros. Previously, CONI was primarily funded by the government through various channels including sports betting, television rights and other sports related ventures.
Under the new law, CONI’s activities and responsibilities would now be under the purview of the government. This would include the financial activity of the organisation.
The IOC are also not too happy with the law that now requires CONI to abide by government statutes rather that the Olympic Charter and the International Federation (IF) guidelines.
EXCERPT OF THE LETTER ISSUED BY THE IOC
“The International Olympic Committee writes to the Italian Olympic Committee before the final draft of the decree was approved. And in fact we read “we wish to express serious concerns about some of them which, if approved, would clearly affect Coni’s autonomy”.
The Italian Olympic Committee’s autonomy is of vital importance for the IOC since sports organizations that adhere to the Olympic movement must necessarily be neutral.
Neutrality and autonomy include the determination of the rules of the sport and the definition of the structure and governance of the same.
Cooperation with governments is envisaged, but National Olympic Committees must be independent of any political, economic, or religious influence.
Violation of these rules leads to failure in compliance with the Olympic Charter.
In the extreme, it could lead to the suspension of the National Olympic Committee from the Olympic events.
The suspension, in any case, has not yet been decided but only feared. The IOC invited all parties to a formal meeting on the issue.”
At the last Olympics in Rio, Italy had fielded a total of 312 athletes in 24 sports. It is prudent to note that Kuwait was banned from the Rio Olympics for similar reasons.