For the first time in Indian sporting history, every medal winner at the National Games will receive a cash reward. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has already directed the organising committee of the 35th edition of the Games, to be held in Kerala, to set aside a corpus of Rs 50 crore for the same. And once the committee approves the proposal, every gold medallist will pocket Rs 25 lakh. A cool Rs 17 lakh purse awaits silver medallist, while bronze medallists will take home Rs 12.5 lakh.
All these years, the Union sports ministry used to reward athletes who won medals at big events like the Asian and Commonwealth Games. The medal winners at these events were given Rs 20 lakh (gold), Rs 10 lakh (silver) and Rs 6 lakh (bronze). Olympic medal winners, of course, got much more.
dna has learnt that the proposal to set up the corpus came up for discussion during the first executive committee meeting of the newly-elected office-bearers in the Capital last month. Several other issues were also discussed during the meeting.
IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta revealed that the cash awards would not just be "restricted to the medal winners". "Even those athletes who finish inside the top five will be rewarded. The IOA has asked the Kerala National Games Organising Committee to set aside a pool of Rs 50 crore for medal winners. This has been done to encourage our athletes," said Mehta.
Another important decision taken at the meeting is that "the IOA has made it mandatory for the National Games Organising Committee to accept entries in only those sporting disciplines which have been recognised by the IOA". "There are 31 disciplines which have been recognised by IOA Charter. The Kerala Games organisers have been told to accept entries only in those disciplines," added Mehta.
It must be mentioned here that the last National Games were held in Ranchi in 2011 after a long delay. It was postponed at least six times. And the 35th edition has already seen many postponements.
This is the main reason why IOA has already accepted the Uttar Pradesh Olympic Association's (UPOA) proposal to host the National Games in 2016. UPOA had also moved the proposal earlier to show its interest in holding 35th edition of the Games due to the Kerala government's lackadaisical approach.