Amid A massive controversy over Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel’s “aggressive” behaviour and selfies at the Rio Olympics, another sports minister — from Haryana — will be leaving for a 10-day tour on Saturday to the Brazilian city to cheer the players from his state.
Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Anil Vij said he will be heading a nine-member contingent to Rio.
Haryana has the maximum number of players — 11 women and 10 men — in the Olympics contingent from India. Its five sportspersons are participating in athletics, two in boxing, six in wrestling and eight are hockey players.
The delegation will also comprise Panchkula MLA and BJP’s chief whip in the state Gian Chand Gupta, Rewari MLA Randhir Singh Kapriwas, Additional Chief Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs, K K Khandelwal, Director and Special Secretary of the department Jagdeep Singh, and media advisor to Haryana Chief Minister, Amit Arya. The tour will cost the public excehquer nearly Rs 80 lakh.
Vij said the visit has been planned in way that it coincides with the events in which players from the state are participating. “Haryana’s delegation has timed its trip to Rio in sync with the events in which Haryana’s sportspersons are participating. It will be a boost to our state’s players. But that does not mean that we will not watch players of other states in the Olympics,” Vij told the mediapersons.
“Apart from encouraging players, the aim is to see how such an event is organised. We have scheduled a number of meetings with officials. How to use the infrastructure that is made at a subsequent stage after the event gets over will also be seen and analysed,” KK Khandelwal told The Indian Express.
Panchkula MLA Gian Chand Gupta said, “There are a large number of players from Haryana who are participating in the Olympics. We are going to Rio to boost the morale of our players.”
While it is the BJP leaders who are part of the government’s contingent, Leader of Opposition and Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala has already reached Rio and managed to obtain an “all-access pass”.
In 2012, Chautala was elected as the president of the Indian Olympics Association. The election was declared null and void by the IOC as Chautala was chargesheeted in a disproportionate assets case pending trial against him.
Although INLD refused to divulge much details about Chautala’s travel to Rio, it said Chautala had gone to Rio on the “personal invitation” of a senior Indian official.
Meanwhile, the monsoon session of the state assembly, scheduled to start from August 19, has been postponed to August 26 as the delegation returns August 23.
The decision about the nine-member delegation leaving for Rio was taken in an all-party meeting held recently. The government has already announced Rs 15 lakh cash award for each player who is part of the contingent.