Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore called on Indian athletes and officials to behave responsibly during the Asian Games to be held in Jakarta and Palembang in the month of August.

A total of 572 athletes will be representing the country in the quadrennial mega-event as part of a 800-plus contingent.

“It is a matter of great pride you (athletes) are representing the country in the Games and you have earned this privilege. When you take part in the Games and when you stay in the Games Village, you will lose your individual identity and your identity there is just one name that is ‘India’,” said Rathore while speaking at the send-off ceremony of the Indian contingent organised by the Indian Olympic Association in New Delhi.

“It is a big responsibility for you. Whatever you do on the field and off the field, please remember one thing that you are representing a billion strong nation. You have to act with responsibility. Whether it is the athletes or officials, everybody should remember this all the time,” he added.

The Indian contingent at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games had run up a bill worth Rs 73,988 for damages caused by athletes and officials in the Games Village. The IOA was fined by the CWG Organising Committee and that led IOA president Narinder Batra to write to several National Sporting Federations (NSFs) to recover the amount from the particular athletes.

The objects that were damaged include door keys, wardrobe hanging fabric, cushion covers, lamps, power boards and USB Outlets. A list of room numbers and respective sports have also been sent to the federations in order to recover the money from the perpetrators.

Previously, the IOA had also sought the medical reports of all athletes and officials headed to the Asian Games and had included questions on smoking and drinking. “The NSFs that undertake the training of athletes have the responsibility to ensure that the athletes and team officials participating in the 18th Asian Games are in optimal physical and psychological conditions to carry out their games time duties at their best,” said Rajeev Mehta, secretary-general, IOA.

The Sports Minister also spoke about the various cases and the numerous selection controversies that cropped up during the run-up to the Asian Games.

“Regarding the selection process of the Asian Games contingent, we will leave it to the IOA and NSFs. It is best not to have too many cooks involved in the process. So, the responsibility of selection (of athletes) lies wit the IOA, but of course if major issues or discrepancies are brought up to us we will look into it,” said Rathore.