The Sports Ministry on Thursday extended the contracts of all foreign coaches till September 30 next year and said that future hiring – both Indian and foreign – will be done on a four-year cycle in sync with the Olympic Games to ensure continuity.

The four-year contracts to be given to new coaches will, however, be on the basis of recommendation from the respective National Sports Federations.

The extension for the current bunch of hired coaches has been done keeping in mind the postponement of the Olympics to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The contracts will be reviewed annually and extended on the basis of their overall performance, indicated by the achievement of the athletes under them in major international events.

“Coaches are the backbone of the sporting ecosystem of any country and ensuring the right coaching for our elite athletes is a vital step towards improving India’s chances in all major international tournaments, including the Olympics,” Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said in a statement.

“This decision is part of India’s long-term roadmap for Olympic preparation for 2024 and 2028. I am confident our athletes will benefit from this,” he added.

Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra welcomed the decision and said it will help athletes in a big way, especially during a time when they have had to go on a forced break of due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown.

“At a recent meeting with the Sports Minister, representatives of various NSFs had raised this issue and requested for longer contract periods for foreign coaches. The existing coaches know the athletes and will build them up,” Batra said.

“Frequent change of coaches means that an athlete has to adjust to the temperament of the new coach and vice-versa. This often hampers the level of performance.”

Batra said the decision will have a positive impact on the performance of Indian athletes in the 2022 Asian Games and the World Championships in 2023, leading up to the 2024 Olympics.

“The continuity of coaches will surely improve the performance of athletes and ensure more medals for India,” the IOA chief said.