The only Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event, Abhinav Bindra, believes that sports can play a key role in leading the world back to normalcy post the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just like in the aftermath of World War II, sports could once be seen having a positive impact on the society, but only after it had attained a certain level of stability, the Indian legend told the Press Trust of India.
“Sport does have the power to transcend borders and certainly capture the imagination of millions across the world,” he said.
“While I am sure the focus over the next few months will be to have everyone bring stability into their lives, sports will play a large role in lifting morale and giving people something to look forward to.”
Blessing in disguise for India
With no international exposure in sight for the near feature, the champion shooter stressed that it was an opportunity for India to build a robust local infrastructure and human resources such as coaches and support staff.
“The post-COVID world could be a blessing in disguise for India. There may not be so much foreign exposure and this may allow India to build proper sporting infrastructure. We need to build our coaches and our support staff,” he said.
Abhinav Bindra was addressing the newly-appointed assistant directors at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and other senior officials in a special online session when he stressed that the authorities should also be working towards ‘creating an alternate skill development programme’ for athletes to ensure their well-being in the long run.
“We need to look after athletes because the very nature of sports is that more will fail than succeed. It is important that athletes have backup plans in case their sports career doesn’t work out,” he stated.
With no live events possible in the immediate future, the ramifications of the pandemic are expected to hit the sports economies hard. But Abhinav Bindra was hopeful that a way would be devised to ensure that the athletes continue to receive the support they need.
“The economies of sports will be affected the most, with many associations and athletes underfunded due to lack of events over this time,” Olympic champion said.
“This will be one of the key challenges that will need to be overcome, to ensure that athletes have the means and support to continue practising.”