India first participated in Olympics in 1900 in Paris. The country was represented by Norman Pritchard, an Anglo Indian who was holidaying in Paris during that time. The Indian Olympic Association is responsible for the preparation and participation of competitors in the Olympic Games as well as in Regional events like Commonwealth and Asian Games. There is a separate federation at national level in each game/sport which assists the Indian Olympic Association and preparation of sportsmen.
The selection of sportsmen is generally carried out on the basis of performance at national level. However, at times, special selection trials are also held to choose the competitors for participation in the Olympic Games and other international events. After initial selection, the competitors are required to attend training camps. The national federations are assisted by the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala, which provides intensive training for athletes.
The selected competitors are then recommended by the national federations to the IOA for official sponsorship for participation in the Olympic Games.
A special feature of the Indian Olympic Association is that, in addition to the national federation for each sport, there are State Olympic Associations in various States in the country. The State bodies controlling the different sports are affiliated to the national federations and to the State Olympic Associations. The aim of the State Olympic Associations is to ensure the promotion of sports in their respective States, in conjunction with the State bodies for the different games and sports. The overall responsibility for participation in the Olympic Games rests with the Indian Olympic Association. The other responsibilities undertaken by the IOA are as follows:
- Deciding the organisation of National Games
- Maintaining liaison between the Government of India and member federations or associations
- Protecting the amateur status of sportsmen
- Promoting and developing the Olympic Movement
Foundation of IOA:
Sir Dorabji Tata towards the end of 1919 first sowed the seeds for establishing a Sports body at National level for promoting the Olympic Sport in united India. Sir Dorabji Tata with the support of Dr.A.G.Noehren then Director of YMCA established the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in 1927. Sir Dorabji Tata and Dr. Noehren have become the Founder President and Secretary General respectively of IOA.
Though no National Olympic Committee was formed in India, Sir Dorabji Tata fielded a token contingent of 6 members i.e. four athletes and two wrestlers in the Antwerp Olympic Games in 1920. During these Games Sir Dorabji Tata was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and thus became the first IOC member in India. Upon his return to India from Antwerp Olympic Games, Sir Dorabji Tata, in association with Dr. A. G. Noehren began to search throughout India for talent in athletics. This talent search aroused national interest in athletics and helped to promote the organisation of athletic meetings in all States and provinces in India.
In February 1924, the first ever Inter-State Athletic meet was organised in Delhi and an eight -member Athletic team selected during this meet was sent for the Paris Olympic Games in 1924. By 1927, the IOA decided to hold regular inter-State Games and since then National championships in all Sports are being held in various states of India.
Sir Dorabji Tata and Dr. Noehren run the IOA activities until 1928. The mantle was then handed over to Maharaja Bhupindra Singh of Patiala (1928-1938), and Prof. Guru Dutt Sondhi (1928-1952) respectively. Sir Dorabji Tata continued as IOC member in India until his death in 1931. In 1932 Prof. Guru Dutt Sondhi, who was also the Indian representative within the International Amateur Athletic Federation, assumed his responsibilities.
IOA the apex Sports Organization of Olympic Sport in the country is responsible for the Indian contingent’s participation in the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games(Outdoor-Indoor-Beach) and South Asian Games. Each Olympic and Non-Olympic Sport has a Federation at the National level and are affiliated/recognized to/ by IOA.
The selection of the National teams is done by the respective National Federations and then recommend to IOA for official sponsorship for participation in the Games being conducted under the auspicious of the IOC, OCA, CGF and SAG. A special feature of the Indian Olympic Association is that, the National Federations and the State Olympic Associations are affiliated/recognised to it. The main task of the State Olympic Associations is to Promote the Olympic Sport and to ensure coordination among the State Sports Associations.
The most important task in addition to sponsoring the National teams for Multi-Sport Games is the staging the National Games.
Names of the Presidents and Secretaries General headed the Indian Olympic Association. since its inception, are given below,: -
- Sir Dorabji J. Tata
- Maharaja Bhupindra Singh
- Maharaja Yadvendra Singh
- Raja Bhalendra Singh
- Air Chief Marshal O.P. Mehra
- Raja Bhalendra Singh
- Mr. Vidya Charan Shukla
- Dr. B. Sivanthi Adityan
- Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, M.P.
- Dr. A.G. Noehren
- Prof. Guru Dutt Sondhi
- Prof. Moin-Ul Haq
- Mr. Ashwini Kumar
- Mr. Pankaj Gupta
- Mr. J.C. Paliwal
- Air Vice Marshal C.L. Mehta
- Dr. Roshan Lal Anand
- Raja Randhir Singh