TOP athletes can breathe easy

TOP athletes can breathe easy

TOP athletes can breathe easy

 With just over five months to go for the Rio Olympics, the Sports Ministry has decided to accelerate the process of releasing funds for the athletes under the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, granting 90% of the funds up front for athletes who have already qualified for the Games.

“The ministry has decided to change the rules. And as per the new norms, anybody who has qualified for Rio Games will be paid 90% of the sum up front. Only the remaining 10% will be paid when the athlete submits detailed bills.

“Earlier, it was paid in two-three stages. Now that only five months are left (for the Olympics), we think it’s time that we speed up the process,” said Rajiv Yadav, Secretary (Sports), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Yadav was in Bengaluru to inaugurate the blue hockey turf at Sports Authority of India’s Southern centre here.

While a handful of athletes had raised concerns about not receiving the assistance under the TOP scheme, Yadav said it was a due to poor documentation.

“I believe that the issue has been sorted out. There were a few problems on the documentation part. But we have appointed some project officers to assist athletes to prepare the documentation as required for the audit. After all, this is public money and audit is a requirement that has to be met,” he clarified.

Infighting in sports federations is another problem that has come to the fore, hampering athletes. These developments seems to have disturbed the ministry too. “We always prefer to have an elected, recognised body in place. The faction fighting is not yielding any good for the sport.

With respect to basketball, our additional secretary was asked to hold a hearing with both the factions and give us a report. She has done that and we’ll take a view on that.

“With boxing, we have advised the the stakeholders to get their act together and conduct an election. A discussion was held on this with SAI’s Director General (Injeti Srinivas) and some of the federation people. I'm sure they will do something.

In the meantime, we've also asked AIBA to give them some leeway (on their deadline of March 31, 2016 to have an elected body),” he added.