Sports Minister: ‘I will not be satisfied with a couple of medals in Olympics’

As a young nation, the minister said that India cannot afford to lag behind, and had to set ambitious targets. “Not every target can be achieved, but it will not be impossible either,” he said.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said Sports has to become a culture in the country.   -  PTI Photo

The Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju expressed confidence that India would have its best ever performance in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in his inaugural address at the Global Sports Summit, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here on Wednesday.

“I will not be satisfied with a couple of medals in Olympics,” the Minister said. He was confident that the performance in Tokyo would set the tone for the ambitious targets for Indian sports in 2024 and 2028 Olympics in Paris and Tokyo.

The minister said that it was a good situation in the country that sports had become part of education, and part of life, through movements like Fit India.

As a young nation, the minister said that India cannot afford to lag behind, and had to set ambitious targets. “Not every target can be achieved, but it will not be impossible either,” he said.

“Olympics is the biggest and greatest event on planet earth. Nothing unites the nation like sports or sports persons,” said the minister.

Putting things in perspective, the minister said that Indian sports industry had untapped potential for making the country one of the leaders of world economy.

Aim: Kabaddi in Olympics

Saying that it was important to encourage indigenous sports like Kabaddi and Kho Kho, the minister that the drive would be to aim for kabaddi in Olympics and Kho Kho in the Asian Games.

“Everybody has to play sports. We have to change the way we look at sports. Sports has to become a culture, and fitness is universal,” the minister said.

He recalled how film star Salman Khan always stood, and hated sitting whenever he visited the minister, saying that the “chair is our enemy and boring”.

The minister lauded the world class JSW centre, apart from the ones run by Prakash Padukone and Rahul Dravid, as the best way forward. He assured that the government would supplement all initiatives to the best extent possible, as he highlighted the collaboration of corporate and government, as the way forward.

On a lighter vein, but in a forceful way, the minister announced that he was using the platform to say, “don’t ban the politicians from running sports. Everybody must be proactive towards sports and everybody has a role to play”.

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The Sports Minister of Odisha, Tusharkanti Behera, an IIT graduate, crisply presented the sports orientation of the Odisha government in making sports the fulcrum of growth in the State, right from conducting a number of world class sports events apart from sustaining the infrastructure with excellent plans, despite the challenges.

The Union Sports Secretary, Radheyshyam Jhulaniya, explained how muscle power had given way to machine power in the evolution of society, and how artificial intelligence would take over soon. He stressed that it was important to capitalise on sports to “keep people occupied”, with socially useful and productive work.

A wide range of subjects and experts made it a lively affair through the day, presenting their vision to make India a fit and sporting power.

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