Sports: Olympic champ to plead for India's Games return

India's sole individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra has been selected to appeal for the country's return to the ranks of the International Olympic Committee, the sports ministry said Friday.

The Indian Olympic Association's membership of the IOC was suspended in December after Lalit Bhanot, who is facing corruption charges over the scandal-tainted 2010 Commonwealth Games, was elected its secretary general.

The IOC de-recognised the elected officials and instead named veteran sports administrator Vijay Kumar Malhotra as the acting president of the Indian body pending fresh elections.

Bindra, who won a shooting gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is part of a five-member government delegation that will meet IOC officials on May 15 to discuss bringing India back into the fold.

The delegation will be headed by sports minister Jitender Singh, the ministry said in a statement, adding that it hoped officials of the interim Indian Olympic Association (IOA) would also attend the key meeting.

The suspension of the IOC membership means India does not receive funding from the world body, its officials are banned from attending Olympic events and its athletes are barred from competing in the Olympics under the national flag.

"The delegation will discuss the possibility of resolving the current impasse created because of the suspension of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the IOC," the ministry statement said.

"It is understood that the IOA is sending its own delegation consisting of representatives of the national sports federations for the meeting."

The ministry "expected" Malhotra and Randhir Singh, India's only IOC member, to also attend the meeting at the world governing body's headquarters in Lausanne.

Malhotra, 81, who has presided over the Indian archery federation for 40 years, opposes the ministry's proposed sports code that makes it mandatory for officials to retire at 70 and limits their tenures in office to 12 years.

Sports ministry officials claim that 53 of the 54 national sports federations had accepted the sports code in writing, with only Malhotra's archery body opposing it.

Malhotra, a former lawmaker for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), argues that the code constituted a "total breach of the Olympic Charter", which prohibits government interference.