Reviewing India”™s performance in the Rio 2016 Olympics, the central government has decided to set up a special task force which will be responsible for formulating an action plan for the next three Olympics games. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said “a task force will 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.“

Announced after the Cabinet meeting, the Task Force will be set up in the next few days. The Task Force action plan will focus on setting up sports facilities, training, and selection procedure, among other things.  The task force will comprise of eminent sports-persons and experts in various areas required to excel in the Olympics.

The decision comes at a time when performance of athletes shows that India has the talent but lacks proper sports infrastructure required to deliver results in the global arena. In the Rio Olympics, The Indian Olympic Association sent the nation’s largest ever delegation with 119 members and yet India bagged only two medals, less tha India”™s medals tally of six in the London 2012 Olympics.

The special Task Force will work to address the solutions to pressing problems of infrastructure, funding for athletes”™ training and transport, and nurturing skills for sports which are not so popular due to various constraints. This is a great step which will help in spotting, nurturing and providing the talents the best infrastructure to excel in their respective sports. If everything goes well, by 2028 we can surely expect India to be a major Olympic force !

Today, sports is a capital-intensive sector where a huge amount of investment and support is needed to excel at the global level. If we consider the United Kingdom, it had spent only £5 million on sports before the 1996 Olympics, where it won only 15 medals (1 gold) and was ranked 36. By 2000 Sydney Olympics, its spending increased to £54 million, where Britain won 28 medals to jump to 10th on the medal table. By the time of London 2012, UK had spent £264 million on sports, and it finished third in the medal table with 65 medals. Between 2013 and 2016, UK has spent almost £ 350 million (Rs. 3400 crore) of taxpayers’ money to improve sports infrastructure and train athletes, as a result of which it finished the 2016 Rio Olympics at the second position with 67 medals (27 gold).

Picture : Getty Images
Picture : Getty Images

I had the feeling that the decision was just about to come. A visionary leader who takes immense pride in the nation and its achievements, who works relentlessly for the nation and its betterment, is farsighted, couldn’t have easily digested that an emerging superpower with 1.25 billion immensely talented people can only get 2 medals. And the visionary that he is, the special task force for Olympic games Tokyo 2020, 2024 and 2028 doesn’t come as a surprise. A much needed and a welcome decision, which will reform the sports sector forever.

Arushi Bahuguna

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