The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra feels India needs to focus on athletics and swimming in order to increase their chances of landing Olympic medals in the future.
In 2016 Rio Olympics, India had 34 participants in athletics but none of them could manage a podium finish. Even as the Tokyo Olympics draws near, Batra has already started to plan ahead of time and is working to ensure India’s medal prospects are bright in the 2024 Olympics.
"For the 2024 Olympics, what’s bothering me are athletics and swimming. Athletics has almost 50 medals, multiplied by three, it’s 150. In swimming, there are 45 medals available. I am working with concerned people. Cycling has 28 medals and fencing has 27 medals, gymnastics has 30 medals. If you need to increase the medals tally, these individual sports are very important." - Narinder Batra toThe New Indian Express.
Batra is confident that the quadrennial event in Tokyo will be a success and hopes that Olympians will get priority when it comes to Covid vaccine program.
"The Olympics is confirmed. The only thing to see now is the number of fans. Vaccinations have started in the UK and there could be a priority for Olympics and athletes. Let's see. I would love to see packed stadiums. IOC is confident and the Japanese government has also said what the protocols are.
"Once the vaccinations start, relaxations should start. Flights haven't opened yet. Those things will all be relaxed after December 31 when there will be some going in and out."
Batra also revealed that he would love to see spectators allowed to watch the upcoming national sports meets in India in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
"IPL (Indian Premier League) and ISL (Indian Super League) began when Covid was at its peak. So naturally, no spectators were allowed in those tournaments. Now things are coming back to control. But for national meets, you don’t see much crowd. Whoever is interested can come and watch. Japan has allowed spectators. They allowed 50 per cent capacity in stadiums. I think Australia is having spectators for cricket. So those parameters are set and gradually the per cent will go up. I would certainly like to be in the stadium," said Batra who is also the President of the International Hockey Federation.
He professed hope that India’s hockey hotspots will start churning out talents who will help the country become a major force once again. Coorg is often called the cradle of Indian hockey as the place has produced some of the greats of the game. Stalwarts like M M Somaya, Len Aiyappa, M P Ganesh hailed from Coorg or Kodagu district in Karnataka. But in the recent past, hardly any promising hockey player has cropped up from the place.
"Coorg has given national players for so many years. But nowadays, I don’t see any youngsters coming up. That’s what I was discussing with VR Raghunath and SV Sunil. I asked them what the issue is. I asked if I can help them in any way in this matter. They are tall, well-built, and add value to the team.
"We have always had the best of the players coming from Karnataka and Coorg. So what’s bothering me is why players aren’t coming from there now. Raghunath and Sunil have asked for six months' time and they have said players will start coming up at the junior level," Batra assured.