The Indian athletes should be allowed to fly business class for international tournaments and have their dietary allowances doubled, Indian Olympic Association Secretary General Rajeev Mehta requested Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Sunday.
The IOA felicitated the Youth Olympic Games medal winners with a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh, Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively. “Often when we see officials travel business class for international events and I find athletes travelling economy. I feel embarrassed. I would request ministry to consider business class journey for any destination that takes more than three hours,” Mehta said in presence Rathore and sports secretary Rahul Bhatnagar.
“I can assure if we take care of these facilities and increase dietary supplement allowance from Rs 450 to Rs 1000, you will see results coming. Hope during the next event at SAI, the sports minister will give us some assurance,” Mehta said. IOA president Narinder Batra cautioned the athletes from complacency after success at the junior level. Batra cited an example of junior World Cup winning hockey players, who went astray after losing focus.
“Your focus should be on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I can give you an example of Junior World Cup winning India players. We thought they will play for the senior team but some of them lost focus. One even made a film on Facebook. “Now these boys are not even in 40 probables in the senior team and won’t play for India. So I want you people to remain focussed on your goal,” Batra said.
The sports minister on his part assured every support that the athletes need from the government. “The Prime Minister met you all in the morning from his busy schedule which shows how important you people are. We have already put a process in place not just for 2020 Tokyo but also for 2024 Games,” Rathore said.
“For a few, a Youth Olympics medal will be a gateway to a good college but some will be aiming higher. A few won’t succeed and some will be able to achieve Olympic glory with focus and hard work,” the Athens Olympic silver medallist said.
Rathore said that his ministry will also help the talented sportspersons in the non- Olympic sports which are a part of the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.