NEW DELHI - An Indian court has asked tainted sports official Suresh Kalmadi to justify his visit to London for the Olympics amid growing criticism of his proposed trip.
The Times of India newspaper reported Thursday that the Delhi High Court asked Kalmadi, who spent nine months in jail for alleged corruption charges related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, whether he was representing the Indian Olympic Association at the London Games.
The court has also barred Kalmadi from leaving India any earlier than his proposed July 26 departure.
The veteran sports official has not been convicted of anything and is on bail. Kalmadi was the chief organizer of the Commonwealth Games, which were marred by construction delays, graft allegations and ballooning budget.
But he remains head of the national Olympic committee and had earlier received permission from a lower court to travel to London from July 26 to Aug. 13 after receiving an invitation as president of the Asian Athletics Association and as a council member of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The High Court took up the matter after a public interest litigation filed by lawyer-activist Rahul Mehra.
"Kalmadi is indirectly representing (India) in the Olympic Games," Mehra contended, saying that negative perceptions regarding the Commonwealth Games "will permeate and he will be a stumbling block" for the 81 Indian athletes competing in London.
India's Sports Minister Ajay Maken and Olympians Milkha Singh and Ashwini Nachappa have also objected to Kalmadi's trip.
"I want to advise Mr. Kalmadi that he should not go to the Olympics unless he is cleared of all the charges," Maken said earlier this week, when he urged the IOA to discuss Kalmadi's invitation with the International Olympic Committee and "explain the matter."
"He will not be part of any official delegation from India," Maken said.
Singh, who narrowly missed out on a bronze in the 400 metres at the 1960 Rome Olympics, said the government should stop Kalmadi from going to London.
"Those who have been to jail for wrongdoing and brought disrepute to India during the Commonwealth Games are now hell bent to malign the country's name at the London Olympics," Singh said in reference to Kalmadi. "The government must do everything possible to stop them."
Nachappa, who is the chief of the action group Clean Sports India, wrote to the IOC earlier this week regarding Kalmadi's invitation.
"This move of Kalmadi going to London, while his prosecution/trial is under progress, has generated huge public outrage in India," wrote Nachappa, a prominent female sprinter of the 1980s and early 90s. "We request you to kindly bring it to the notice of the organizing committee of London Olympics 2012 that Mr. Kalmadi visiting London to attend the Games can have serious consequences."