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Handball controversy casts shadow over run-up to inaugural OOC elections

A dispute over the Oman Handball Association’s (OHA) elections last year has cast a shadow over the run-up to the first ever elections to the Oman Olympic Committee (OOC) to be held next month. The handball body is one of the ten sports organisations that will have a vote in the OOC elections.

The dispute involves allegations of government interference and other irregularities in the handball association's elections that have been levelled by the OHA's previous chairman Said al Busaidy. The allegations have been dismissed by an official at the Ministry of Sports Affairs and the current handball association chief, Sultan al Hosni. In January, Busaidy listed the allegations in a letter to the International Handball Federation (IHF), whose chairman Dr Hassan Moustafa has now asked the OOC to look into them.

Busaidy has also sought the postponement of the OOC elections, scheduled to be held on April 25, if the dispute is not resolved by then. In his letter to the OOC, dated February 20, Dr Moustafa wrote, “According to the IHF Statutes... as well as the IOC’s Olympic Charter, the government must not interfere in the national federation's affairs.

Therefore, I kindly ask you to... provide us with your opinion in this matter in order to present the whole issue to the IHF Council during its next meeting.” In response to the IHF chief's request, the OOC decided during its board meeting on Saturday to set up a highpowered committee, under the chairmanship of Habib Abdulnabi Macki, the acting OOC chairman, to study the issue. The three-member committee also includes Dawood al Raisi, former Oman Hockey Association chief, and Mutassim al Zadjali, the Oman Tennis Association chairman. In an interesting twist to the controversy, the handball elections were held last November when Busaidy was heading the body. He was defeated by Hosni.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Busaidy said, “I have always maintained that the OHA election held on November 27 was unfair as there were irregularities in the filing of the nomination papers of the elected chairman [Sultan al Hosni]. Also, there was a big question mark over the role of the Ministry of Sports Affairs during the elections, which were held despite my objections. “I had approached the ministry to seek a clarification on the discrepancies, but when I failed to get any convincing reply, I approached the world governing body some time back. The IHF then wrote to the OHA and after receiving its reply, which was sent through the Ministry of Sports Affairs, it has now sought clarifications from the OOC.”

Hosni, however, rubbished the charges, saying, “They are all false. It was Busaidy who was at the helm during the elections. If there was a problem, he should have asked the sports ministry to stop the elections. There is no basis to his allegations. The OHA replied to the IHF a month back on the matter.”

A senior ministry official, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “There is hardly any issue as the elections were held in a transparent manner. We only stepped in when Busaidy requested us to look into the nomination for a chairman’s candidate.”

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