The Sports Minister of India wants to begin all domestic sporting activities at the earliest.
During an Instagram chat with table tennis ace Manika Batra on Sunday, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju expressed his willingness to resume sporting activities in India. In late March, the pandemic forced the country into lockdown to prevent the transmission of the virus. However, the restrictions are now being slowly eased as the country prepares to get back to normality.
“I want the sporting activity to begin as soon as possible. I’m hoping that in next couple of months’ time we should be ready with at least some of the events,” Kiren Rijiju stated.
However, Rijiju reiterated that the health and safety of the athletes will take precedence as strict measures will be taken to ensure they train in the best possible environment. He said, “Keeping that in mind, I’m very much in support of creating a better atmosphere to start the sporting events as soon as possible. This pandemic has created a big obstacle for us.”
Kiren also recognized the importance of the sporting industry and the role it plays in generating jobs for countless other people. He further added that he is doing everything in his power to get all the players back to training but believes that it might take some time to bring back competitive action.
He remarked, “Lakhs of people are associated with sport, with manufacturing, organising events, league… Commercially sport is a big industry. I’m trying my best to ensure that not only the top athletes but all the players get back to the field. I will try to start as soon as possible. I’ve already given permission for resumption of practice and training sessions but it will take some more time to have the competitive games.”
Rijiju also has huge ambitions and opened up on the nation’s goal of entering the top 10 at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. He displayed his confidence in the younger crop of athletes and hopes that they will lead the way at future tournaments.
He revealed, “The 2024 Games is mid-term goal but the long term is 2028. When I became sports minister I had very limited talents, potential Olympic medalists. In 2024, we will have a potential team which can get us maximum medals. But in 2028 I’ve made my mind very clear we have to be in top-10. And I’m not saying just like that. Our preparation has started.”
Rijiju went on to add, “Junior athletes are our future champions, we have started our preparation in a solid way. We will see results in 2024 and will make rapid progress. But mark my words, India will be in top-10 in 2028. We are creating a conducive atmosphere, support staff towards that.”
Kiren Rijiju said that they have charted a long-term plan that will massively benefit their junior athletes and promises to produce a world champion in the coming decade. Lastly, he also revealed that they have provided the athletes much-needed financial support during this difficult period.
“To create a world champ it will take four to eight years. I’ve laid the foundation now. We have started junior coaching very professionally. We are providing best possible coaching and technical support. It will require four to eight years to become champion. We have not stopped the stipends. We have released the money for all the junior athletes too. We have cleared all of them and not a penny is pending,” Kiren Rijiju concluded.