To ensure better acclimatisation and no hangover from jet lag, India’s Olympic-bound athletes can set up base in Rio a month in advance before the 2016 Olympics.
The Union sports ministry in a recent meeting has decided to do away with the policy of sending the contingent only two days prior to the start of any major international events. It means that athletes can now stay and train there a month before the 2016 Games starts on August 5.
The ministry, it is learnt, has entrusted the Indian embassy in Brazil to arrange for the stay and scout training locations for those athletes who wish to travel to Rio in advance to prepare for the Games. At London 2012 and other Games before that, the Indian contingent travelled to the host city in batches, according to their event schedule.
“We got feedback from athletes that reaching the venue two or three days before the event is not enough to get used to the conditions. So we have decided that if the federations wish to, we can send the athletes to the host city up to 30 days in advance so that they get enough time to prepare themselves before their events,” a ministry official said.
“Earlier, we used to send athletes just two days before the event. The amended policy will now be applicable to major international events, which include the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.”
The ministry says the huge time difference between India and Brazil might be an important factor during the Games. “If the players land in Rio a day or two in advance, they will be tired and suffering from jet lag. From our end, we want to give them the option and benefit of reaching early and get accustomed to the local conditions,” the official added.
The embassy in Brazil has already swung into action, with defence attache Captain Atul Deswal making the necessary arrangements. A delegation comprising officials from the sports ministry, Sports Authority of India and the Indian Olympic Association is expected to visit Rio soon to finalise the training venues.
The athletes will stay at the Olympic Village once the Games get underway but it will be officially opened only 10 days before the opening ceremony, which is scheduled to be held on August 5.
“Till the time the athletes’ village is opened, the ministry will look after the stay for the athletes. It is an expensive affair but we are not looking at the cost factor,” the official said.
India is expected to send its biggest-ever contingent next year, with more than 100 athletes estimated to qualify for the Games. At the London Olympics, India had 83 competitors in 13 sports. So far, 57 Indian athletes have qualified for the Games in five disciplines — archery (4), athletics (12), hockey (16 men and 16 women), shooting (8) and wrestling (1). The number is set to increase as and when the qualification events take place.
Hike in coaches salaries
The ministry has decided to introduce a three-fold hike in salaries of chief coaches working with the national teams. Indian coaches will take away paycheques of Rs 1.5 lakh per month instead of Rs 50,000 that they receive right now. The salary of other coaches too has been increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs 75,000 per month.
In other incentives to sportspersons, the amount for senior, junior and sub-junior competitions has been revised to Rs 5 lakh, Rs 7 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively, from the existing Rs 2 lakh in each category. The government has decided to sanction air travel for senior players and coaches for a distance beyond 500 km while the junior players have been allowed air travel for a distance beyond 1200 km. ENS