The Olympic Task Force, set up by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports submitted its recommendations for better preparation and the road ahead for Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Monday.

The task force has had several meeting and have interacted with various stakeholders including elite athletes (including para athletes), federations, coaches, foreign experts, sports journalists, before coming up with the proposal.

Here are the key takeaways from the 2020 report:

  1. The task force made a point strongly that all recommendations should apply to Para athletes as well. Towards that, the report itself has been titled “Preparation of 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games”.
  2. Set up an Empowered Steering Committee (ESC) to drive all initiatives. This body will be solely responsible for ensuring proper preparation for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This body should also have full financial autonomy.
  3. An internationally acclaimed High Performance Director (HPD) be appointed to work withthe Empowered Steering Committee.  
  4. Removing cap on salary for Indian coaches and support staff. Former athletes should be encouraged to return to coaching/support staff/technical field through deputation from various organisations. While this happens, they should retain their seniority in their respective organisations.
  5. Pradhan Mantri Gold Card should be issued to the elite potential athlete & their coaches as an identity of being a ‘National asset’. This card will also provide facilities for emergency quota for air/train/bus tickets and hassle free access at various places.
  6. A special cell within ESC should be established to take care of all the logistical issues for athletes, so they can concentrate on training alone.
  7. Sports Science to be accorded top priority. It must play a key role in assisting HPD. Coaches to deliver results. It will ensure all sportspersons have access to the latest in the world, be it medicine, nutrition advise, anti-doping, etc. Athletes should also have access to a 24x7 NADA helpline where they can seek advise on any doubt.
  8. Primacy of Athletes and Coaches to be maintained at all times. ESC and HPD to work towards creating an environment that allows them to deliver. Would include infrastructure, equipment, training camps and all else.  

The committee, which was formed to recommend the way forward for preparing India’s participation in the next three Olympics, has three athletes in Abhinav Bindra, Viren Rasquinha and Pullela Gopichand. Besides the three sportspersons, the other five members are School Sports Promotion Board head Om Pathak, hockey coach S Baldev Singh, who runs an academy in Shahabad, G L Khanna (Professor and Dean of Exercise and Physiology at Manav Rachna International University at Faridabad), journalist Rajesh Kalra and Sports Authority of Gujarat Director General Sandeep Pradhan.

Panel member Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medalist so far, said, “The task is not easy, but we have worked hard and made recommendations that we feel are necessary to deliver some tangible results in the short-term. And while doing so, we have ensured that their practicality has not been ignored.”

“We put up a few pointers during our meeting and the main recommendation was to set up an empowered steering committee to take charge of the next Olympics,” Pullela Gopichand, member of the Task Force told PTI.

“We have been meeting at regular intervals. And, besides 2020, of course the discussions are also being held for 2024 and 2028. We debated several issues and brought to the table ideas that can eventually be implemented to bring in greater synergy among all the stakeholders and supplement the efforts being made by different segments,” Gopichand added.