Kiren Rijiju: Need to resume sports in a couple of months

Kiren Rijiju also said that he was keen on including sports as a compulsory part of the syllabus in schools and not merely as an extra-curricular activity.

Kiren Rijiju

Kiren Rijiju believes that it is integral to create a sporting culture in the country.   -  Getty Images

Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju is eager to see sporting action resume in the country post the coronavirus pandemic. The sports calendar has been ravaged and events across the globe have been cancelled or postponed and while countries are slowly opening up to sporting competitions, Rijiju feels it's time to hit the ground running.

“COVID-19 has put sports on a standstill but we need to ensure we take steps and organise some sporting events symbolically in a couple of months. We need to prioritise our health and safety, but activities must go on,” Rijiju told a web conference on Thursday.

“We cannot be defeated by the virus, we must defeat it. We must take a balanced step, middle path. We will have to move on, we cannot talk and plan all the time, we need to get going and start.”

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Indian Olympic Association president and FIH president Narinder Batra added, "We have lined up certain events.... the hockey national championships will be held in October, November, or December."

The Sports Minister stressed that while fans will not be allowed to attend sporting events in the near future, steps will have to be taken to ensure their interest is piqued when watching from home.

“In the absence of fans in the stadium, we will have to work out a mechanism on how to broadcast and stream the events and make it interesting. We have to learn that sports can be interesting without spectators too. That will give a lot of confidence to people,” he said.

Rijiju also felt it was integral to create a sporting culture in the country and to spread the values of the Olympic movement, which aims to educate youth through sports per Olympism and its values.

“Our effort is to make India a great sporting nation – all those important steps are towards creating a sports culture in India. Without culture, we won’t be able to understand the Olympic movement because they are interlinked.

 “As we talk about it and being a large country – our participation and achievements in the Olympics should have a higher position. India has been participating in the Olympics regularly and we won our first gold medal in hockey in 1928 at Amsterdam. We have been there regularly, but I am personally not satisfied with India’s performance in the Olympics.”

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He added, “We did not have that kind of policy from the government or a movement in society to make sports as a culture. I want to ensure that our society becomes vibrant in creating India as a sporting society. To become a sporting powerhouse we need to have sports in our mindset.” 

The Sports Minister also said that he was keen on including sports as a compulsory part of the syllabus in schools and not merely as an extra-curricular activity.

“The New Educational Policy will have sports as part of it, not as an extra-curricular activity – sports is also education and cannot be treated as an optional subject. The New Educational Policy has not been declared yet but is in its final shape. My ministry has pushed strongly to make sports an integral part of the educational system in India.”

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