New Delhi: Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday assured athletes who would be given funds for top-class training under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOP), not to worry about the contentious clause requiring them to get prior government approval for any other commercial deals with third parties.
Selected sportspersons can continue personal commercial endorsements entered before agreeing to be part of the TOP, provided funding is not received for the same activities as the Scheme.
They, however, need prior written approval of the National Sports Development Fund where the proposed sponsor is a competitor of any of the TOP Scheme's partners.
But Sonowal today said there was no hard and fast rule regarding this issue.
"There is no hard and fast rules. This can be sorted out. We have started such a scheme for the first time for the benefit of the sportspersons so that they can try to get Olympic medals," Sonowal said on the sidelines of Conference of Ministers and Secretaries of States/Union Territories in-charge of Youth Affairs and Sports here.
Sonowal refused to disclose how many sportspersons have signed the Grants Agreement required to give consent to be a part of the TOP Scheme.
"It is under the process of finalising things," he said.
Asian Games gold-medallist Seema Punia is among those who have been offered to join the scheme for a sum of Rs 75 lakh till the Rio Olympics next year. The scheme covers athletes in the disciplines of sailing, archery, athletics, boxing, wrestling, shooting and badminton.
While addressing the conference, Sonowal said the Union Budget presented to the Parliament earlier this year by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has provided for Rs 10 crore each for the next three years for the TOP Scheme.
"The Union Budget has Rs 10 crore contribution per annum for the next three years for the TOP Scheme," Sonowal said, with Jaitley present as chief guest of the conference.
Sonowal had earlier said that 75 sportspersons have been selected for the scheme.