CHENNAI: Priority of COVID vaccine for Olympic-bound athletes, hosting of more international events in India, the financial security of medal-winning athletes and their coaches even after retirement, gender neutrality, life insurance and health insurance for all Olympians and “stop slashing support to national sports federations (NSF) funds”.
These are some of the recommendations given by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports on the preparation for the Olympic Games submitted on Thursday.
The committee led by Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Rajya Sabha MP, had listed out recommendations to the sports ministry. The committee suggested that the sports ministry and the NSFs must ensure players get enough international exposure and “get an opportunity to play maximum international tournaments before the 2021 Olympic Games”, as due to COVID, there were less international/national competitions this year. The panel went on to recommend under the head – Best Practices – “Focus should be on sending sporstpersons and athletes for training abroad so that they have the best training at international standards of excellence”.
The panel took exception to lack of coaches in Sports Authority of India (SAI) and also took notice of the fact that quite a few foreign coaches had resigned and returned to their countries due to the pandemic.
“About 561 vacancies exist. This is unacceptable,” the report said. Lack of qualified coaches has been one area the SAI has not been able to fix for quite some time. With the opening of various National Centre of Excellences, the demand for coaches has increased. The panel also said that an immediate survey should be carried out in collaboration with the NSFs to gauge requirements for coaches, including personal coaches for athletes.
The panel talked about doctors and physiotherapists at SAI centres too. According to the report, “medical staff and other medical equipment (like X-ray, MRI) should be made available at select SAI and training centres”. Another area the committee touched upon, under the head, institutional support, is interesting. “The government should be swift in making decisions and granting approvals viz, financial grants, equipment, representation in international competitions, etc. to avoid unnecessary delays,” the report said.
To avoid sexist behaviour and sexual harassment, efforts should be made to sensitise male athletes and coaches on gender issues. In fact, it went to emphasise that all schemes and incentives designed for the athletes should be gender neutral. The panel suggested that women should be encouraged to take up sports so that in future, Olympic contingent will consist of equal number of men and women athlete.
The committee also wanted to implement a National Olympic Scholarship Programme in a phased manner which “would guarantee minimum but fixed financial aid to every athlete who does well at the national level”. Job guarantee scheme for all medal-winning athletes too has been mooted.