Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday announced that the diet budget of the SAI trainees, senior and junior athletes will be increased to bring parity. Earlier, the diet budget for SAI trainees, junior athletes and senior athletes was Rs. 250, Rs. 480 and Rs. 690, respectively but the Rijiju has decided to make the amounts equal. Speaking about his decision, Rijiju said, “While having my meal at the athletes mess (at the National Institute of Sports) in Patiala, I noticed that senior and junior athletes and SAI trainees have different diets since the food budget for each section is different.

“However, diet is key for the success of a sportsperson and no child can become a world champion with inadequate diet. The diet of an athlete should not depend on the level at which he or she is playing, but on the need of the athelete as per recommendation of coaches and nutritionists, budget cannot be the deciding factor while planning an athlete’s diet. “I have therefore decided that going forward, there will be no discrepancy in the food budget of athletes who are training at SAI centers,” added the Minister after having breakfast at the women’s hostel here at NIS Patiala.

Rijiju visited their mess and the kitchen to take a first hand report of the quality of food and the way it is prepared for the athletes. He has also assured that the kitchens in all SAI centers will be modified and turned into state-of-the-art to ensure that nutritional value of food is not lost. The Minister also announced that besides food, supplements required by athletes, as per prescription, will also be made available without delay.

The move will impact 12,500 athletes training in various SAI centers and the sports ministry will release an additional amount to Rs 150 crore annually to fund the new diet budget. During his visit, Rijiju met athletes from various sporting disciplines like volleyball, boxing, athletics, weightlighting and spoke to them and their coaches at length. He enquired about the quality of food served, training regimes and requirement for added facilities and infrastructure.

While speaking to the athletes, he sort their suggestions to improve facilities. Asking them to reach out to him with issues that need attention, Rijiju assured that their immediate requirements would be catered to within two or three months.  “India is an emerging 5 trillion dollar economy, and necessary funds will be managed. We are committed to use funds wherever needed. All athletes will be given all requisite facilities to train well and bring medals for the country,”: he said.