BERLIN, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Italy on Tuesday approved a decree guaranteeing the autonomy of the country’s Olympic committee, a day before the IOC was due to discuss imposing sanctions on the country due to host the 2026 winter Olympics over perceived government interference in sporting matters.
The IOC had threatened to ban the Italian flag and anthem at this year’s Tokyo Olympics over a new draft Italian sports law that hands power over sports funding to a government-run body instead of to CONI, the national Olympic committee.
According to national news agency ANSA, the cabinet approved a decree on Tuesday morning securing CONI’s autonomy, with CONI chief Giovani Malago then contacting the IOC, of which he is a member, to inform it of the news.
The IOC Executive Board is due to meet on Wednesday, and sanctions on Italy had been on the agenda aside from a raft of Tokyo Olympics-related matters.
The IOC is allergic to any kind of government involvement in sports affairs, even at the national level, saying that sports should be independent of any government influence.
Italy is set to host the 2026 winter Olympics and any sanction ahead of Tokyo would have been a major embarrassment. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Hugh Lawson)