Indian Athletes have made India proud by giving their best shot at the Rio Olympics despite the hardships they had to face. We being a country of little more than billion people; there is no dearth of talent. But since the process of training and procuring equipment prove expensive many back out and the few left either continues for their passion or backed by sponsors. Our athletes train themselves amidst lack of proper facilities. In India, it is no secret that not enough facilities are provided to athletes. From poor infrastructure to lack of even basic provisions like food and water, our athletes struggle despite all odds. The lack of basic provisions (food, water), poor infrastructure and faulty equipment, our athletes struggle despite all odds.
In India, money is awarded to athletes only after they have won medals. State Governments, Sports Federations, Politicians, corporate companies etc. you name it and they are there to shower money on the medal winners. The kind of money one gets after winning a medal is huge, but while training the same athletes get peanuts as funds.
Olympic Medal winners PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik are being showered with cash prizes by government agencies. Sindhu has, by our count, already been promised Rs 13 crore and Sakshi Rs 5.6 crore, while Lalita and Dipa will be given Rs 15 lakh each. These figures could rise.
It’s a great thing that athletes who won medals for our country, are being awarded with such generous amounts.
Now let us compare these amounts with the money spent on these athletes when they needed it the most – while they were preparing for the Games.
The government has special scheme to provide funding for those athletes whose prospects of getting medals are high. This scheme is called the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme.
Under this scheme and from funding through sports federations, Sindhu was given Rs 44 lakh while Sakshi got Rs 12 lakh. That’s 3.4% of Sindhu’s post-medal awards and 2.1% of the money Sakshi is to get. Dipa, who finished fourth in the vault, got only Rs 2 lakh for Olympic preparation under TOPS.
India has been practicing a strange model. While most countries spend money on building medal winners, in India money pours in after they’ve won.
Of the 118 athletes who represented India at Rio, 67 were funded by TOPS and received a total of Rs 17.1 crore. That’s less than the amount now being showered on Sindhu and Sakshi.
Apart from the funding through TOPS, an additional Rs 13.7 crore of assistance was provided to these 67 athletes through various national sports federations, taking the total expenditure on them to Rs 30.8 crore. While nobody would grudge the athletes the cash rewards being given, it raises the question of why this money wasn’t available for funding our sports persons in their preparation.
Its astounding to know, about 60% of that money is now being lavished on the two medal winners as governments scramble to bask in reflected glory.
We can just hope this practice of “neglect first and reward later” stops at the earliest; otherwise India would continue to be at end of the table in the list of countries to have won Olympic medals. Taking a cue from other countries, the government should make sure that athletes are given the best of facilities and equipment. We can just hope Indian government realises this and starts putting more efforts in building many medal winners.
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