Mumbai: Nita Ambani, founder-chairperson of Reliance Foundation, has been nominated as an independent candidate to be a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) based out of Lausanne in Switzerland, it was announced on Friday.
The election for membership, which officials say is a mere formality, is scheduled at the 129th IOC Session at Rio de Janeiro between Aug 2 and Aug 4. As per the new selection process, Ambani, when elected, will continue to serve as a member of the IOC until she reaches 70 years of age.
IOC President Thomas Bach, announcing the eight candidates at a press conference in Lausanne, said: “This is a very outstanding group of personalities that are experts in their respective fields.”
The list also includes Anant Singh of South Africa, a film producer who was raised in the country’s apartheid era and wrote a book on late President Nelson Mandela — “Long Walk to Freedom”. He also produced “Yesterday” that was South Africa’s first Oscar nominated movie.
Among Indians, Ambani will be the first woman and the third individual to become a member of the IOC after the late Sir Dorabji Tata and Raja Randhir Singh, who is currently an honorary member of the IOC.
“It is truly an honour and a privilege to be nominated by IOC. I believe in the power of sport to shape our youth, to bring together communities and bridge gaps between cultures and generations,” said the 52-year-old social entrepreneur.
“I am grateful to IOC for this opportunity, it’s a recognition of India and Indian women. I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute in meeting the goals of IOC,” she said in a statement.
Ambani spearheads all of Reliance Industries’ initiatives in sports, notably cricket, football, basketball, kabaddi, tennis and golf, either through the company, the foundation or its joint ventures.
Sports is also an important component at the 13 schools overseen by her — which educate more than 15,000 students — and at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School and the Reliance Foundation, company officials said.
“Her grassroots programmes have reached out to over 3 million children.”
While she will represent the IOC and Olympic Movement in India, she is not a delegate of the Indian Olympic Association, which selects athletes to represent the country at the Olympic Games, Asian Games and other global athletic meets.
The International Olympic Committee is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement.
It acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family — from the national Olympic committees, the global sports federations, the athletes themselves and the bodies organising the games, besides partnering with UN agencies.
As regards its members, Since Dec 12, 1999, the number has been limited to 115, which includes a maximum of 70 individual members, 15 active athletes, 15 representatives of federations and 15 representatives of the national olympic committees.
The nomination for Ambani also comes ahead of the upcoming Olympics games at in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil from Aug 5 to Aug 21 Aug. India’s medals count has fallen sharply from 71 at Atlanta and Sydney in 1996 and 2000 to 50 in Beijing in 2008 and 55 in London in 2012.