India’s sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said that there will be no shortage of funds for the National Sports Federations, despite the government slashing its overall allocation at the start of 2020, an Olympic Games year.
The government last week gave a substantial hike of Rs 312.42 crore to its flagship Khelo India programme but reduced allocation to the NSFs, National Sports Development Fund and incentives for sportspersons.
“If there are shortage of funds for the federations, these can always be taken up, that is why there is a provision for revision. If they need more money, they will get more money,” Rijiju told reporters during an interaction in New Delhi.
The highest reduction in the sports budget was seen in National Sports Federations with Rs 245.00 crore being allocated, which is Rs 55 crore less than the revised Rs 300.85 crore for 2019-20.
As far as incentives for sportspersons are concerned, the budget has proposed to slash the amount from Rs 111 crore to Rs 70 crore. The budget for NSDF also got reduced to Rs 50 crore from the earlier Rs 77.15 crore.
Overall, Rs 2826.92 crore was allocated to the sports budget for the next financial year in the Union Budget, which is an increase of a mere Rs 50 crore from the revised estimates of 2019-20.
Rijiju said: “You are looking from a different angle. Whatever we got in the last budget allocation, we had a jump of more than 50 %; what you are saying 50 crores, you are comparing from the Revised Estimate, if you see the original allocation in last budget, it is a historical jump.
“You have to see from the actual stand point, then you will get the complete picture,” he added.
The Indian Olympic Association had recently invited Sourav Ganguly to become the Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Asked if an Olympian would have been a better choice, Rijiju said: “For me, every Indian has to be an ambassador for the Olympics because it is a platform which determines which country stands where in the sports, so I’m not looking for one or two persons. IOA is an independent body but as a government I look forward to every Indian as an ambassador.”
The Inaugural Khelo India University Games, featuring 177 institutes and 3340 athletes will be held at the KIIT University Campus in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1.
Talking about the flagship project, the sports minister said: “I am excited to see the huge shift in the way we organise sporting events in India. Now we are going to have Khelo India University Games in Orissa. It would happen in a mega scale, it would not be like what we used to see, where each university used to host one discipline.
“World wide the standard of University Games is high, most of the stars of the Olympics come from here. Because the age bar is higher than Youth games, the standard will be higher and we will definitely see many champions from this.
“We are focussing on scouting of the talent. It will be a platform to create the talent pool, who will be provided training and support.”