Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Union Sports Minister, inaugurated the Khelo India Youth Games in Pune on Wednesday. On the sidelines of the U-17 and U-21 sports event, Hindustan Times talked with him on several issues ranging from age-fraud to Tokyo Olympics. Excerpts
In any age-group competition age fraud is a major issue. How do you plan to tackle that?
We are gradually creating a system of logging in people when they start to compete with their documents/identity. It gets uploaded to a central database. Thereafter, that particular athlete never has to carry his form in other competitions that he or she goes to. The data will reflect automatically in future events and it will remain in the records forever. Thereafter, once in every competition, random tests will be carried out.
Does the pace at which Indian sport has moved since you won the Olympic medal in 2004 satisfy you?
Tremendous change has come about in our country in how sport is looked at by the people, be it the corporate or be it the parents. Not to forget there are many non-cricket athletes who have a very lucrative career. There is tremendous potential in our country. Gradually it will spearhead Indian sport to global heights in a very short span of time.
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You mentioned non-cricket athletes getting help from all quarters. Will that see an increase in number of medals in the 2020 Olympics. We won just two medals in Rio 2016?
For a system to gradually have an impact it needs time. We are looking at 2024 and 2028 Olympics, by then I can certainly tell you that there will be an enhancement in the number of medals. Even for 2020, we are doing many new things. For example through the aegis of the ministry of sports, an invitation was received from the government of Japan, we extended that invitation to IOA and made a joint team to go to Japan and visit the stadiums. They also interacted with the Indian diaspora and the Indian embassy and the Japanaese sports federations, so that we have an invitation for all teams to play and practice in the Olympic arena before the event. Our chefs will be there too.
Still, do you have any number for Tokyo 2020?
The TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) team does such a thorough research that we have specific names and disciplines where we will get or are likely to get a medal. We are not only monitoring our own athletes, their injuries, their performances and how they are peaking but are also monitoring also their opponents. Never has such thorough research been done. But if I tell you the numbers then everyone else gets demoralised as everyone wants to win a gold medal there.
Recently medal prospect Neeraj Chopra’s coach Uwe Hohn complained about delay in procurement of javelin equipment. How will you ensure that such incidents are not repeated?
That issue has been resolved. If you do a close study of that incident, Neeraj himself came out later saying that everything is in order.
Like every ministry, the sports ministry also follows a GFR (General Financial Rules) for the procurement of goods. In some cases the speed with which they are required is more and the quantities are small. For example, Neeraj wanted specific category of competition javelins while his training javelins are already there. For setting up a system for flexibility in procurement of equipment.
First Published: Jan 11, 2019 10:28 IST