In an effort to ease the burden of India’s National Sports Federations (NSF), the Sports Authority of India (SAI) announced that it will be opening up its facilities to the NSFs, free of charge.
For the NSFs, that entails not just a waiver of the rentals but also any overhead changes incurred during the conducting of national or international events.
The news further added to the optimism created by the SAI’s earlier announcement that India would be getting 23 new centres of excellence spanning 14 sports.
Adding appeal to Indian facilities
Indian sports minister Kiren Rijju hopes the initiative will spur federations into hosting more events and provide more vital exposure to the country’s athletes.
“We are keen to host events where athletes from various countries compete in India so that our athletes get a chance to gauge their own sporting merit,” Kiren Rijju told the Times of India.
SAI director Sandip Pradhan hopes the move will improve the underutilisation of the SAI facilities while cutting down on overseas training by Indian athletes.
“We fund the federations to send our athletes to train and compete abroad, while we don’t provide them with the similar environment in our own country,” stated Pradhan.
“Barring a few federations, many sports bodies find it difficult to rent SAI facilities as the rent and other overhead charges are too much for them to bear. Hence the facilities go underutilized.”
NRAI gets first shot
One of the earliest beneficiaries of this initiative will be the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), poised to save around ₹50 lakhs in rent and electricity charges when during the ISSF World Cup in May and June.
In addition, the NRAI will also get a ₹44 lakh-waiver for rental of on-premier retail stalls.
NRAI secretary general Rajiv Bhatia welcomed the initiative. Speaking to the IANS, Bhatia said, “Be it the World Cups or (national) trials, we used to spend similar amounts as rent or overhead charges. The waiver will help us and even other federations in organising tournaments in (a) better capacity.”
The move also comes in step with rising concerns over the coronavirus spread.
"We have to ensure that at this point in time, the financial implication is not more than the health issue. The health issue is the prime concern for all of us," Kiren Rijiju said.