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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Looking forward to the day when India hosts the Olympics: Rajnath at ASI

"I have been in Indian politics since long, but I can say that the role that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has played in the development of sports, is unparalleled and beyond imagination."

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
August 28, 2021 12:07:13 am
At the ASI ceremony, Singh is slated to felicitate 16 Olympians from the Indian Army who competed at the Tokyo Olympics. (File)

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday made an appeal for a resolve to make India a sports power and said he was looking forward to the day when India hosts the Olympics.

At a function held at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) in Pune, Singh felicitated the Armed Forces personnel who had represented India in the recently-concluded Tokyo Olympics, including Gold medalist javelin thrower Subedar Neeraj Chopra. A stadium at the ASI was also renamed ‘Neeraj Chopra Stadium, Army Sports Institute, Pune Cantonment’ in presence of the Defence Minister, who unveiled the plaque and main name board of the multipurpose athletics stadium.

Addressing the sportspersons he felicitated, Singh said, “From this podium, I want to tell all the sportspersons sitting on the dais, that you are not just sports icons but also leaders of the youth in the country. A leader’s responsibility is to lead the followers in the right direction. Today, we should all resolve to make India a sports power in the coming days. Looking at these sportspersons, I am confident that our resolve will become a reality one day. Our Prime Minister has shown an unforeseen interest in sports. I have been in Indian politics since long, but I can say that the role that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has played in the development of sports, is unparalleled and beyond imagination. You must have seen the media coverage of the breakfast interaction the Prime Minister had with these sportspersons. Friends, I am looking forward to that day when India hosts the Olympics.”

Speaking about the performance of Indian Armed forces personnel at the Olympics, the Defence Minister said, “Delivering these outstanding performances in spite of the ongoing Covid pandemic was a great achievement. There were difficulties in training. The Army Sports Institute has played a key role in making this happen. I have been told that during the lockdown, when training was turning out to be difficult, equipment were delivered to the houses of the sportspersons. In some cases, shooting ranges were constructed for shooters at their homes.”

Established in 2001 under the Indian Army’s Mission Olympic programme, ASI is a multi-disciplinary sports training institute. The institute imparts training in seven fields: Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Diving, Wrestling, Fencing and Weightlifting. The Indian Army’s ‘Mission Olympics’ programme was launched in 2001 with an aim to raise the standard of sports with the intent to win medals in international events, including Olympics.

“I have been told that ASI has till now produced 34 Olympians, 22 Commonwealth Games medalists, 21 Asian Games medalists, six Youth Games medalists and 13 Arjuna awardees,” said Singh.

During his speech, the Defence Minister gave several historical references about the importance of sports, “In Ramayana and Mahabharata eras, various sports were taught as part of the education of the art of war. The Indus Valley civilization had flourishing sports like fencing, javelin throw, archery, weight lifting and chess. Nalanda and Takshasheela Universities had elaborate sports training programmes, where people from foreign countries used to come and train. If we speak of Maharashtra, it was extensive education through various sports guided by Swami Ramdas, Dadoji Kondadeo and Jijabai that led to the transformation of a child named Shiva into Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.”

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Singh said, “The government will do whatever it takes for the development of the sports. We are fully committed towards this cause. The Prime Minister has been working towards encouraging sports and sportspersons.”

Singh, however, didn’t answer a question about the Supreme Court decision to allow women to appear for the NDA exam.

Later in the day, the Defence Minister visited the Headquarters of Southern Command in the city. The minister was briefed by Lieutenant General J S Nain, Army Commander of Southern Command, on various operational, training and administrative issues of the largest command of Indian Army.

A press statement from the Ministry of Defence said, “The Defence Minister complimented Southern Command for its professional approach and operational readiness towards ensuring sovereignty of the nation. He also congratulated the Command for its outstanding contribution in various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations in peninsular India, particularly towards assistance provided to civil administration in the recent flood relief operations and the pandemic. He appreciated the efforts of Southern Command for engaging with research and development institutes to further the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative of the government.”

Army Chief General MM Naravane was also present for the briefing.

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