CHENNAI: In a novel and rare gesture, the sports ministry has decided to pay a stipend of Rs 50,000 to all elite athletes who have been selected under the TOP scheme until the 2020 Olympics and 2018 Asian and Commonwealth Games. The ministry announced this on Friday. This amount will be considered as pocket expenses and will be over and above the training money they get. This can be spent on expenses other than training, exposure and diet.
“This will take care of their miscellaneous needs,” said well-placed sources. According to a sport ministry official, some kind of stipend was given to athletes before the Rio Olympics Games. When it comes to duration, this time will perhaps be the longest. The 10-member TOPS Elite Athlete Identification Committee that met in Delhi on September 1 decided to recommend 107 more names to the already existing list of 45, taking the figure to exactly the same as Rio Olympics.
“Their recommendations have been accepted and so the number of athletes to get the stipend will be 152,” said an official. The ministry, however, is yet to declare the names. If sources are to be believed, most of the recommendations made by the committee is for the Asian and Commonwealth Games next year. Only four or five are for Olympics.
The ministry has been very strict this time, particularly with the selection of track and field athletes. Last time around they had named 45, but this time they have restricted it to just 19 (two names were added in the July meeting). The committee led by Abhinav Bindra this time included para-athletes as well. There are 19 para-athletes including 2016 Paralympic gold medallists T Mariyappan, Devendra Jhajharia and silver medallist Deepa Malik.
The committee during its meetings decided to have strict monitoring over the athletes. They have even suggested that when the athletes apply for funding, they have to submit their performance record.