LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Mexico has avoided any threat of suspension from the Olympics after the IOC found no evidence that the government was interfering in the work of sports federations.
Pere Miro, the IOC’s deputy director general of relations with the Olympic movement, said Tuesday the Mexican government has assured the International Olympic Committee that it respects the autonomy of national sports bodies and will not meddle in their leadership.
The IOC opposes political interference and says governments should respect the autonomy of the Olympic movement.
Mexican sports officials had expressed concern the country could be suspended by the IOC and miss next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro because of a conflict with the government. The sports bodies are facing financial inspections by a national government agency, which is questioning how funds are being spent.
But Miro said the IOC has determined “there is no case” of interference, adding that the government’s request for sports federations to justify their spending was perfectly legitimate.
Miro, speaking on the sidelines of an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, said he would report his findings to the board on Wednesday.
In late October, the IOC suspended Kuwait’s national Olympic committee over government interference, leaving the gulf country’s athletes in limbo for the Rio Games.
But Miro said Mexico was not in the same situation.
“We don’t believe there is an important problem or a conflict with the Olympic Charter or autonomy,” he said. “The government has requested to some national federations to justify the money the government has given to them. That is more than legitimate. This is completely fine.”
The only concern was not with “facts,” but with some statements by government officials suggesting that they could replace some sports federation leaders, Miro said.
“This they cannot do,” he said. “This would be interference in the autonomy.”
Alfredo Castillo, head of Mexico’s National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports, has been critical of the Olympic Charter, calling it “the best invention that has been created to avoid monitoring of how public money is spent.”
Miro said there has been an exchange of letters between the IOC and a high-level Mexican minister in charge of sports, who told the Olympic body that the government would continue questioning sports spending but would also “respect completely the autonomy.”
“The letter of the minister is very satisfactory.” Miro said. “If they act as they say, for us it’s absolutely fine.”
The IOC has asked the president of the Mexican Olympic Committee and the secretary general of the Pan American Sports Organization to mediate in case of any dispute between the government and sports bodies.
Mexico won the men’s soccer gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, beating Brazil 2-1 in the final. Mexico won a total of seven medals, including three silver and three bronze.
Miro said there has been no progress on the situation in Kuwait. If the suspension is not lifted before the Rio Games, Kuwaiti athletes will not be eligible to represent their country. In the past, the IOC has allowed athletes from suspended countries to compete as “individual athletes” under the Olympic flag.
Negotiations on government interference in Pakistan have progressed “in a very good way,” Miro said, adding that he would announce a positive result on Wednesday.