How Nita Ambani Became the First Indian Woman IOC Member

Nita Ambani, the Founder and Chairperson of Reliance Foundation strives for the social transformation of India. She actively contributes towards different programs conducted by the foundation. Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), works in the areas of healthcare, education, sports, disaster response, rural transformation, urban renewal, and arts, culture and heritage.

Mrs. Ambani is an ardent sports lover. She dreams of India as a multi-sports nation. She spearheads a number of initiatives for the development of sports in India. Due to her contribution towards sports, she got elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Nita Ambani’s selection as an IOC member

In August 2016, Nita Ambani became the first Indian woman to be elected as an IOC member at the 129th Session of IOC held in Rio de Janeiro, just a day before the opening ceremony of the 31st Olympic Games. At present, Mrs. Ambani is the only active individual Indian IOC member. She will remain a member of the body until the age of 70.

Nita Ambani was nominated for the post in June 2016 by the IOC Executive Board. The selection process was based on the new recruitment procedure recommended in the Olympic Agenda 2020. The nominated members were purely chosen on the basis of the work they have done in the development of sports. The new recommendations focus on protecting the uniqueness of Olympics and encouraging sports in the society. After the nomination, the existing IOC members voted for the candidates.

Among the eight candidates, Mrs. Ambani garnered 92.2 percent of valid votes, which was the highest. 77 valid votes were registered for her out of the total 82. Out of these, 71 responded positively.

IOC is a high-profile body that governs Olympic sports in the world. The first Indian to be a part of the IOC was Sir Dorabji Tata. Raja Randhir Singh, who was an ex-Indian Olympic Association Secretary General, served the IOC between 2001 and 2014 and later held the post of an honorary member.

Nita Ambani At The Rio Olympics 2016
Nita Ambani at the Rio Olympics 2016

Nita Ambani, on being elected as an IOC member

On receiving the honor of an IOC member, Nita Ambani was humbled and overwhelmed. She said that the recognition increases the importance of India and Indian women at the global level. She expressed her delight to spread the spirit of Olympics and sports across India. She said that she was happy to get the opportunity, wherein she would be able to contribute towards accomplishing the goals of the IOC.

In October 2016, Mrs. Ambani spoke at the ‘Sport at the service of humanity’ conference. The conference was organized by the Vatican, United Nations (UN), and IOC. More than 150 world leaders were present at the conference including Pope Francis; Secretary General of UN, Ban Ki-moon; and the President of IOC, Thomas Bach.

Nita Ambani was the only Indian present at the conference. She addressed the audience on the impact of sports on society and its power to transcend inequalities. She said that sports create magical things on fields as smiles and friendships flourish over wins and losses. It brings people of different ethnicities and communities together, she added.

Nita Ambani’s contribution towards sports

Nita Ambani is a noted sports promoter. She has a strong faith in the power of sports. She believes that sports can shape the future of the youth. She also believes that sports unify cultures, communities, and generations.

Her commitment and a keen interest in sports made her become the favorite among the IOC candidates. Her experience and knowledge in sports proved to be a major driver. Moreover, the way she has promoted football in India became a valuable criterion for her to be a part of the IOC.

In India, Mrs. Ambani leads numerous sports initiatives. She focuses on refining talents of young individuals with a number of grassroots initiatives. Her grassroots programs have reached to more than 3 million children in the country.

Nita Ambani founded the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament that has raised the profile of football in India. The subsidiary of RIL owns the Mumbai Indians team in the cricketing tournament, Indian Premier League (IPL). Mrs. Ambani is actively involved in motivating and developing the team. Mrs. Ambani is hopeful that cricket will be a part of the Olympics soon.

Apart from cricket and football, Mrs. Ambani develops other sports like basketball, golf, tennis, and kabaddi. Sports is also a primary focus area in the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, which is headed by her.

Mrs. Ambani believes that a sport has the unique power to multiply faith, stimulate positive change, and create human bonding. She wants to encourage different sports in India and is looking forward to spearheading a movement in sports for children in the country.

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