NEW DELHI: August 15 turned out to be a very busy day for India’s Olympians. Their day started early with Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort and ended with a grand felicitation from the Indian Olympic Association at a prominent hotel in the city.
Buses from the hotel left at 5 am and all athletes were greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the conclusion of his Independence Day speech at the Red Fort. “The young generation made India proud at the Olympics. Those athletes are present here today,” Modi said and then requested everyone assembled at the function and people across the country to applaud the achievers of the Tokyo Games. SAI officials were also present at the spot.
In the evening, IOA hosted a grand function wherein for the first time they handed out cash incentives to not only medal winners, but all the Olympians, federations as well as coaches. Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra was given a cash award of Rs 75 lakh while silver winners — wrestler Ravi Dahiya and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu — received Rs 50 lakh each. Bronze medallists — shutter PV Sindhu, boxer Lovlina Borgohain and wrestler Bajrang Punia — got Rs 25 lakh after their fine show at the recently-concluded Olympics.
Each and every member of the bronze-winning men’s hockey team got richer by Rs 10 lakh. Neeraj’s coach received Rs 12.5 lakh, while coaches of Dahiya and Chanu got Rs 10 lakh. The coach of all bronze medallists were given Rs 7.5 lakh. To honour each and every member of India’s Olympic contingent, an amount of Rs 1 lakh was given to all 128 Olympians. Besides, the medal-winning National Sports Federations (NSFs) were presented with cheques of Rs 30 lakh each while the remaining federations were also given a lump sum.
IOA chief Narinder Batra praised all India’s athletes and said they played a major role in uplifting the mood of the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic. “There was a lot of gloom and despondency in the country due to Covid-19 before the Olympics. But your performance in Tokyo Olympics has changed all that and you have brought smile to 1.3 billion people of the country.”
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, while praising India’s athletes, also added that the TOP scheme would be extended so that support could be provided to many more deserving sportspersons. He also urged corporates to take up one sport and increase their CSR budget in the coming days.
This is not the end of celebrations as the entire contingent have been called for an event with the PM on Monday before they depart for their respective bases later in the day. At Tokyo, India won seven medals — one gold, two silver and four bronze — which is their best-ever haul from the Olympics.