The Indian government has shortlisted 14 priority sports and decided to set up 23 National Centres of Excellence for them, in hope that the initiative pays off by ensuring better preparation for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.
Even though Tokyo 2020 is the immediate focus, the governing body has kept an eye on the future by merging existing schemes already operating within the Regional Centres and Academic Institutions of the Sports Authority of India.
As per the decisions made during the Sports Authority of India’s governing body meeting on Friday, the government has zoned in on 14 priority sports which will be the core focus of the initiative.
The National Centres of Excellence built around these 14 sports are pegged to have state-of-the-art infrastructure, sports science support and athlete-specific diets, with no monetary restrictions.
Elaborating on the details, the Sports Authority of India press release said, "the Governing Body also approved (the) appointment of more than 350 sports science experts and more than 100 specialised mess and kitchen staff.
This includes the appointment of chefs and nutritionists in different National Centres of Excellence with an aim to “ensure the best quality diet and sports science facilities to all."
Also as part of this undertaking, 25 hostels will be constructed under approval from the Governing Body, with a stated capacity of 8,000 across the various National Centres of Excellence.
Broader benefits for Indian sports infrastructure
Aside from that, sports infrastructure as a whole will see an upgrade as part of this initiative.
Projects of 56 crore rupees going toward the National Centres of Excellence at Patiala and Bengaluru and sports science equipment of around ₹80 crore will be procured.
Khelo India receives boost
Also standing to gain from the initiative will be 21 Special Area Games Centres, which will be clubbed under Sports Authority of India training centres.
As per the release, “The funding for National Centres of Excellence and the training centres will be under the Khelo India Scheme of the Ministry. However, the salary of coaches and administrative staff will continue to be borne by the Sports Authority of India through (a) block grant.”
With India having made a significant leap in its Olympic performance during the past decade, with healthy hauls of medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games, initiatives like these bode well for even more gains into the next one.