Italy govt legislates to avoid Olympic Games ban

Rome (AFP) –


Italy's government on Tuesday pushed through a decree guaranteeing the independence of the national Olympic Committee (CONI) to offset the threat of a ban from the Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Executive Committee meets in Lausanne on Wednesday with Italy facing sanctions for not respecting national sporting body CONI's independence.

"The Council of Ministers has approved the decree which guarantees the autonomy of CONI," sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora announced.

"Now the last word is up to the Parliament to make it law."

The emergency decree was approved shortly before the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Global governing body the IOC, which warned Rome in the summer of 2019 of the risks of government interference in the management of CONI, puts great emphasis on the independence of national Olympic committees, a key element of its Olympic Charter.

The origin of the dispute dates back to the end of 2018 when the agency managing the employees and resources, in particular financial, of CONI was put under the direct control of the national government.

It had previously been managed directly by the IOC.

Since the summer 2019 warning, the IOC has written several times to the Italian government about the issue and the IOC President Thomas Bach publicly expressed his concern at the end of September during the World Road Cycling Championships in Imola.

"In view of the long and glorious sporting and democratic history of our country, it was unlikely that Italy would be sanctioned so harshly tomorrow (Wednesday), but today's decision dispels all doubts and solves the problem of the 'independence of CONI,' said Spadafora.

On Monday, CONI president Giovanni Malago, a member of the Olympic body, urged the government to take urgent legislative measures to avoid a potential Olympic ban.

"The situation of CONI will be discussed at the IOC Executive Board meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) taking the decree into consideration," the IOC told AFP on Tuesday.