India Olympics ban lifted after new officials elected

IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the decision would have an "immediate impact"

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A ban on India's Olympic Association (IOA) has been lifted, allowing the country to return to the Olympic fold, officials say.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended India for electing officials accused of corruption in 2012, in breach of the Olympic charter.

But on Sunday the IOA conducted fresh elections which were seen as fair.

Indian athletes have been competing at the Sochi Winter Games under the IOC flag but can now do so under their own.

This is the first time a suspension of a national Olympic committee has been lifted during an Olympic Games and it comes into effect immediately.

"The decision means Indian athletes can compete for their national Olympic committee. They can walk behind their national flag at the closing ceremony," IOC spokesman Mark Adams was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"The Indian flag will be raised in the [Sochi Winter Games] village, at a time to be announced," Mr Adams added.

India's team at the London 2012 opening ceremony India's team at the London 2012 opening ceremony

IOC member Randhir Singh welcomed the decision and said it was "great news for Indian sport".

"It's time everyone understands that the Olympic charter is supreme. It is important that sport is run well and tainted officials are kept out in a country of 1.2 billion in which 40% is youth," he told the Associated Press news agency.

The IOA has elected a new board, led by world squash chief N Ramachandran, which meets international requirements that no person convicted or facing corruption allegations can be included.

The IOC suspended India in December 2012 for holding elections in defiance of the Olympic charter and appointing officials facing corruption charges related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Abhay Singh Chautala was elected unopposed as president and Lalit Bhanot as secretary-general of the IOA in the elections which were declared void by the IOC.

Mr Bhanot spent 11 months in jail in 2011 on corruption charges linked to the event before he was released on bail. Mr Chautala has close links to his predecessor Suresh Kalmadi, who is also on bail on similar charges.

Both Mr Kalmadi and Mr Bhanot deny any wrongdoing.

Three Indian athletes are participating in the Sochi Winter Games and none is expected to win a medal.

In the luge, Shiva Keshavan, India's top winter sports athlete, finished 37th in a 39-man field. During a training session last Friday, he came off his sled but managed to get back on it seamlessly.

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