No budgetary constraints for Tokyo-bound athletes, assures India's sports minister

Kiren Rijiju also gave the green signal to hire Dronacharya award winners and international athletes as coaches

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

With Tokyo 2020 approaching, Indian athletes who have qualified for the event and those striving to book their ticket are hard at work. India's sports minister Kiren Rijiju has assured that there will be no financial impediment that could possibly hamper their training.

More than 70 Indian athletes have qualified for the Games and more are hopeful of doing so.

“Presently there is a pandemic situation so there have been certain restrictions with regards to our expenditure and finance ministry is looking into it. But we are not letting this constraint have any kind of impact in terms of training and in terms of coaching our athletes.

"Athletes are training in full swing, especially for the Olympics, so there are no budgetary constraints for our sports department especially with regards to the training of the athletes,” Rijiju told ANI.

Rijiju also affirmed India's commitment to anti-doping, launching a breakthrough reference material for use in chemical testing in the field of anti-doping. The material, developed by National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL) in collaboration with National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), would be used in all World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratories across India.

Later in the day, Rijiju also announced the development of the National Centres of Excellence (NCOE) for sports. He revealed that a fund of INR 100 crores has been approved for the project.

The hostels, the kitchen, and the overall infrastructure will be at par with three-star hotels to ensure best athlete experience. An expert agency will be in charge to provide sports science equipment and manpower to the various NCOEs.

New equipment of physiotherapy and physiotherapists will also be brought in for all NCOEs, a program which was not covered in the first phase.

The pilot project will be started at the newly-built hostels at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range and Jawaharlal Nehru stadium complex in New Delhi.

The funds will also be used to improve the field of play, and upgradation of existing facilities.

Moreover, it was also decided that the international athletes and Dronacharya award winners will be hired in various positions of coaches directly on contract or deputation.

Even coaches working in Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and in the government would be roped in for their services.

"Our sportspersons are our national pride, this decision is in line with the earlier announcement that I had made about bringing eminent Indian coaches and ex-athletes to the SAI NCOEs," said Minister Rijiju.

The meeting was attended by sports secretary Ravi Mital, SAI Director General, Sandip Pradhan, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary-general Rajeev Mehta, former India football team captain Baichung Bhutia and former international swimmer Khajan Singh.