Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra insisted that there was no scope to complain about lack of support from the government and that the onus was on the federations to change their ways of functioning for success at major international events like the Olympics.
Speaking at Indian Express’ Idea Exchange program, Batra pointed out that India struggles in individual events that have maximum numbers of medals on offer and that needs to change.
“It is more difficult to interact with federations than with governments as the latter are more supportive. I have had no problem with governments in the last two years. It’s difficult to convince the federations to change their habits and ways. If you have a blueprint [of the roadmap], there is nothing called ‘No fund’ from the government. Most of the top federations have everything in place. But the others need to now get into the system…
“The maximum medals in Olympics come from aquatic sports. No Indian athlete has ever qualified for these sports. We have always gone under the two free quotas… Then comes athletics which has 40 medals. Then there is judo with 12 medals and fencing with 10 medals. The only presence [in individual sports] we have is in wrestling, boxing, weightlifting and shooting. In team sports, it is hockey, badminton, tennis,” he added.
Insisting that IOA’s target was to take India’s medals tally to double figures in Tokyo 2020, Batra said he was focusing on sports that can give the desired results.
“As of now, about 61 athletes have qualified. A lot of competitions are yet to take place — badminton, tennis, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting. Even if we don’t qualify, there is a quota of two [athletes in every event]… The number [of qualifications] should be between 100 and 125.
“[As far as medals are concerned], we want to hit double digits. It’s a tough ask but I am trying to focus on events from where the results can come from,” he added.
Entertainment tax, a problem in Delhi
Batra, who is also the president of the world hockey federation and member of International Olympic Committee board, insisted that IOA was planning to host the 2023 IOC session, 2026 Youth Olympics, 2030 Asian Games and 2032 Olympics in order to increase people’s involvement in sports which will eventually lead to broaden the base of people playing sport.
He also explained the logic behind his comments on hosting such mega events outside of Delhi saying the entertainment tax levied in Delhi was a much hurdle.
“To host international games, you need a clean stadium… The Delhi government has implemented an entertainment tax. You have to pay 20 per cent tax on the amount received from sponsors. The problem was noticed when we hosted hockey games. We are not cricket. If you have problems with cricket, don’t destroy Olympic sports.
“And such a tax structure is only present in Delhi, nowhere else in India. And this tax has not been implemented by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government but by the earlier Congress government, when the IPL started,” he added.
The IOA president also explained that in India a good sports system can be run only of the Prime Minister or the Chief Ministers are interested in promoting sports. “Our system is such that it is controlled either by the Prime Minister or the Chief Ministers. If the CM has interest, things will be done. I am from Srinagar. [Former CM] Farooq Abdullah was very interested in sports. So that culture matters.”
Read the entire interview here