Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said the ministry had planned several new initiatives to forward Olympic sports in India, including the identifying of specific disciplines for success and a plan to make each state proficient in one sport.
As part of this, the government has identified 14 sports to be developed for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics and started a ‘one state, one game’ initiative with state governments, Rijiju said in an interview with The Times of India. The idea is to invest the years needed to build a sport into a success in the next decade.
The short list of sporting disciplines to be developed as medal prospects till 2028 for the future include archery, boxing, shooting, badminton, wrestling, hockey, weightlifting, cycling and athletics. Sports like table tennis, judo, swimming, fencing and rowing will be included to the list from 2028 onwards, continued the newspaper.
“It takes at least 8-10 years to groom an athlete to achieve podium success at the Olympics. For example, China won maximum medals from swimming [including diving], shooting, weightlifting, table tennis, gymnastics and boxing. So, it’s necessary to identify sports disciplines which we can develop for excellence in Olympics and which state is best suited for grooming athletes in a particular Olympic sport,” Rijiju was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
To further this, the centre has approached state governments to choose one sport from the 14 in the one state, one game plan.
“We have requested them to choose one sport from among the above 14 sports disciplines, in which a state feels it can groom athletes to compete at the Olympic level and adopt it under the policy. The central government will provide the funding to each state for each sport. States can also contribute,” he added.
Rijiju had earlier hinted that 2028 Los Angeles Olympics was the benchmark saying that eight years should be enough for India to prepare its best. The minister said next year’s Tokyo Olympics is the immediate target but infrastructure needs to be put in place for future events for athletes to perform well.
“If we can’t prepare ourselves for something that far [2028 Los Angeles Olympics] then we have to blame ourselves in terms of policy-making, setting a direction and channelising the resources,” Rijiju said.
You can read the full interview here