The government hopes the move will provide vital exposure for Indian athletes.

The Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju has announced that all the facilities of Sports Authority of India (SAI) will be available for free to India’s National Sports Federations (NSFs).  

For the NSFs, that not just includes the hosting of various national and international sports competitions, but also the waiving of rental fees. Kiren Rijiju made this announcement on Twitter after the meeting of SAI’s governing council.

National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) will be one of the earliest beneficiaries of this decision, as they stand to save around ₹50 lakhs in rent and electricity charges during the upcoming ISSF World Cup in May and June.

Kiren Rijiju also stated that 23 National Centres of Excellence will be set up across the country for the 14 priority Olympic sports. Non-SAI coaches can also train their athletes in SAI facilities free of cost by booking training slots online.

He is hoping that this initiative will encourage various federations to host more tournaments and provide important exposure to the country’s athletes.

“We are keen to host events where athletes from various countries compete in India so that our athletes get a chance to gauge their sporting merit,” Kiren Rijiju told the Times of India.

SAI director Sandip Pradhan also commented on the decision. He hopes that the move will improve the underutilisation of the SAI facilities, while also cutting down on overseas training by Indian athletes.

Pardhan said, “We fund the federations to send our athletes to train and compete abroad, while we don’t provide them with the same environment in our own country.”

“Barring a few federations, many sports bodies find it difficult to rent SAI facilities, as the rent and other overhead charges are too much for them to bear. Hence, the facilities go underutilized.”