Will the COVID-19 pandemic affect NSFs' funding?

Except for the BCCI, all national sports bodies get funds from the ministry. To host additional events and other overhead costs, NSFs also rely on private sector funding.

Paralympic Committee of India believes the COVID-19 pandemic will have impact on its financial well being.   -  REUTERS

Not all of them are impacted as they depend solely on the government to run the show, but some National Sports Federations have begun to feel the pinch of reduced corporate funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Except for the BCCI, all national sports bodies get funds from the ministry under the Scheme of Assistance to National Sports Federations. The budge set aside for them this year is an accumulated Rs 245 crore.

It covers almost everything — athletes’ training and equipment needs, participation in international tournaments, exposure trips abroad, and hosting of national and international events in the country.

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Every year, the NSFs have to submit their Annual Calendar for Training and Competitions (ACTC) proposals to get their share from this fund.

But, a lot of NSFs are not solely relying on the government. To host additional events and organise tournaments on a bigger scale or to spend on other heads, they are open to private sector funding.

The government has even made provisions to enable corporate houses to spend money from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for sports activities.

Cycling Federation of India (CFI) and Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) are among the sports bodies which are expecting reduction in assistance from the CSR funds. The Athletics Federation of India and the Indian Weightlifting Federation, however, said they will not be impacted at all.

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“Certainly, there is going to be reduction in CSR fund component which we get from the private sector due to this coronavirus outbreak. The private sector is hit hard and it will have an impact on corporate funding in sports,” CFI Chairman Onkar Singh told PTI.

He said the CFI has been receiving funds from Honda Motors in the last few years, which add up to more than Rs 1 crore annually.

“We submitted project proposal for this year in February but they (Honda Motors) are yet to approve it,” Singh said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced postponement of sports events scheduled in the next few months but international federations are hoping to restart sometime in the second half of the year.

CFI’s most prestigious international event is the Track Asia Cup — approved by world body UCI — which usually happens in New Delhi in September-October, and Singh said the continental tournament is still on at this moment.

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“...we will know more about this event depending on how this pandemic unfolds. All the international events have been postponed as of now and UCI will take a decision in June on the future course of action,” Singh said.

PCI Secretary General Gursharan Singh also said the COVID-19 pandemic will have impact on its financial well being.

“Yes, there will definitely be reduction of CSR funding to PCI in current financial year due to severe economic slowdown. As most of the corporate houses have already exhausted their CSR funds due to their generous contribution to the PM CARES fund, the contribution to sports bodies will not be a priority,” he said.

“PCI has already chalked out its financial plan for the year 2020-21 very meticulously since Tokyo Paralympic Games are now to be held in 2021 and therefore we hope to sail through,” he added.

PCI gets funds from Citibank Global (through a tripartite arrangement with world body IPC) and Hero Motors. Gursharan said CSR funding from State bank of India faced problems last year.

IWLF, however, does not expect any difference as far as its financial situation is concerned.

“We don’t get corporate funding, all our activities and events are conducted from the funds we get from the sports ministry,” IWLF Secretary General Sahdev Yadav said.

It is the same for AFI, which said the current health crisis has not impacted its financial situation.