New Delhi: Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has promised “surgical” precision in the distribution of funds to athletes preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games, asserting that centralisation of the process has made bureaucratic hurdles a thing of past.
Rathore said on the sidelines of a function to felicitate medal winners of the recently-concluded 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, Rathore elaborated on the initiatives, that he feels, have put India on the path of becoming a sporting powerhouse.
“We have very clearly and very professionally divided our working between grassroots and elite sportspersons. The elite athletes are being looked after by a different set of professional people so that there is no bureaucracy,” Rathore, an Olympic silver medallist in the double-trap shooting, said.
“We have just begun working on systems that can connect the athletes to the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) absolutely straight, transparent and quick,” he added.
TOPS was instituted in 2014 to fund athletes considered strong medal prospects for the Olympics. Currently, the athletes are picked by a committee and the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC), under the Sports Authority of India Director General, is entrusted with the task of disbursing funds to those selected.
The MOC has representation from the national federations and various project officers appointed by SAI.
Rathore said funds are no longer an issue for Indian sports as a lot of corporate houses have started contributing “generously”.
“We have now funds available for grassroots to elite. A lot of corporates are coming on board. They are putting in funds. Earlier, the funds were going in different directions but now we are combining and concentrating the flow,” he said.
Asked about his expectations from the Tokyo Olympics, especially after the country’s best ever medal haul of 69 in the Asian Games, he said no effort would be spared in making the athletes battle-ready for the challenge.
“We have already started working for 2024 and 2028 Olympics. The 2020 Olympics is right next around the corner and in our celebrations, we haven’t forgotten and reminded the athletes.
“Our real achievements will come in 2024 and 2028 Olympics. But nothing will be left undone even now. Very precise and surgical support will be provided to each athlete so that they give their best. This period of 600 odd days is a lot, a lot can change positively for us,” the Minister said.
The Minister said the performance of the coaches and the concerned National Sports Federations (NSFs) is also being periodically monitored by the government.