Aimed at boosting India’s performance in future Olympic Games, Prime MinisterNarendra Modi on Friday announced that a Task Force would be set up to prepare a comprehensive action plan for “effective participation” of Indian sportspersons in the next three Olympic Games — 2020, 2024 and 2028.
The announcement was made at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers at which the Prime Minister also reviewed the performance of various ministries vis a vis promises made in last three budgets (two full budgets). Modi also examined the status of the implementation of the Departmental Action Plan for various ministries.
It is learnt that the PMO has asked the Sports Ministry to submit a detailed report on India’s disappointing performance at the Rio Games. The report, a Sports Ministry official said, has to be submitted by the end of September.
The Task Force will be set up in the next few days and will prepare the overall strategy for sports facilities, training, selection procedure and other related matters.
An official statement said that the Task Force will have members who are in-house experts as well as those from outside. Of a 119-strong contingent that participated in the Rio Olympics, P V Sindhu secured a silver medal in badminton and Sakshi Malik won the bronze in 58-kg freestyle wrestling. Dipa Karmakar finished fourth in Gymnastics Vaults final.
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The PM’s announcement comes when sports federations are entering a review mode to dissect what happened in Rio. On Thursday, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) constituted a four-member committee with Abhinav Bindra as its chairman to examine in a “cold and ruthless manner” the reasons behind India’s debacle.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has also decided to take stock of their flop show next week while the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has suggested that it will focus on young wrestlers for the Tokyo Olympics.
Shooting and wrestling are two disciplines where India was expected to return with medals. While the shooters returned empty handed, Sakshi Malik won a solitary medal for India in wrestling. However, the tally in the sport came down from the London Games, where Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt won a silver and bronze medal respectively.
Before the Rio Games, the ministry had projected that India would win around 10-14 medals based on the performances of individual athletes in the last 12 months. However, as an investigation by The Indian Express beginning Saturday will show, the run-up to the Olympics was mired in mismanagement and red tape with most of the financial assistance coming only in the last eight months. Speaking to The Indian Express, Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General Injetti Srinivas underlined the need for a “long-term” view which is what the Task Force will aim to do. “There is no hiding the Rio disappointment but the fact is we are totally relying on handful of athletes for medals,” said Srinivas. “That’s not going to help you. You need to have proper bench strength.”