The 49-year-old reacted to the Union Budget presented by Finance Mnister Nirmala Sitharaman.

India’s Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has assured that there is no shortage of funds and preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are in full swing, despite a reduction in the sports budget.

The sports ministry saw a reduction of ₹ 230.78 crores when compared to the amount earmarked initially for the previous year. The central government has allocated ₹ 2596.14 crores for the financial year 2021-22.

However, this year’s allocated amount is ₹ 795.99 crores more than the revised budget of 2020-21. Last year spending was severely impacted after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Domestic events were also cancelled in almost all sports and no foreign training or competition was possible for most of the Indian athletes.

Speaking about the budget, Kiren Rijiju said, “If needed, there is a provision for asking for revised allocation. We can ask for it.”

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has been allocated ₹ 660.41 crores, a 32.08% rise in the allocated budget as compared to the Budget Estimate of 2020-21. The substantial increase will lead to higher spending in the annual calendar for training and competition, which is used to fund the preparation of athletes. The National Sports Federations (NSFs) have received an allocation of ₹ 280 crores, with a hike of 14.28% over the Budget Estimate of 2020-21.

It is a major boost to SAI, which is the nodal agency responsible for providing financial support to elite athletes. A budgetary increase for NSFs will also assist further in supporting the Olympic preparation of Indian athletes.

Kiren Rijiju remarked, “This is the Olympic year and Olympic preparation is the major thrust of the government right now. The big boost in SAI and NSF budget will ensure that there is no shortage of funds and Olympic preparation is on in full swing. We are preparing in the best way possible.

“We give money to the players through federations. We are there to look after the requirement of athletes and demands of NSFs. The funding is for athletes, not NSFs. There isn’t and will be no shortage of funds for players for their training. As and when they require, it will be provided,” Kiren Rijiju added.

The budget for the Sports Ministry’s flagship Khelo India programme has also seen a reduction of ₹ 232.71 crores as the government has allocated ₹ 657.71 cores for the next financial year. The allocation for the previous year was ₹ 890.42 crores. Last year, the Khelo India budget could not be used for infrastructure development or coaching camps owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.