A new circular from the Sports Authority of India (SAI), asking sports federations to manage their preparations and participation in the upcoming Commonwealth and Asian Games within the stipulated budget, has caused some sports bodies to wonder if they would be able to field teams at all in the two events. By evening, though, the ministry clarified that the circular was not the final word.
The circular, dated June 20, states that, “…it has been decided that the participation cost of the Indian teams in the forthcoming Commonwealth/Asian Games 2014 will be met out of the Budget earmarked under the ACTC 2014-15. It may please be noted that no separate funds will be allocated for the participation of the Indian teams in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games 2014.”
Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra said his federation had Rs. 31 lakh left in its kitty and wondered how both the men’s and women’s teams could be expected to participate in a major event with this amount. “We cannot send 48 people to each of the two competitions within this budget. Unless the government steps in with further funding, the Indian hockey teams will not be able to participate,” Batra said.
Incidentally, Hockey India had a run-in with the SAI on the issue of funding the men’s team for the Azlan Shah tournament in 2013. In that case, the Union Sports Ministry had to step in to resolve the issue.
Sports Secretary Ajit M. Sharan, however, downplayed the fears. “This was a general circular sent out to all federations asking them to try and stick to the allocated budget. There is nothing new or extraordinary in this. Having said that, if there are specific circumstances where a federation needs more funds or there is some other issue, it can always discuss it with the SAI and work out a solution. A circular isn’t the end of all matter,” Sharan clarified.
SAI DG Jiji Thomson, too, sought to allay any confusion. “As far as I know, in multi-discipline events like the Commonwealth and Asian Games, all expenses are borne by the organisers. Only if a team reaches much before the cut-off date, the government is expected to foot its bill and that we will do.
“At the same time, federations must also keep in mind that the budgetary allocation is not very high for sports. Of course, there will be a new budget soon with some amount expected to be announced for the remaining part of the financial year. That will also be used for funding teams. So whatever the federations have now is not the final figure,” Thomson said.