New Delhi: Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra today made it clear that the national sports governing body cannot send the athletes for the upcoming Commonwealth Games on its own cost as it still needs government grant for its functioning.
Batra made the comment while announcing sponsorship partners of the Indian contingent for the April 4-15 CWG in Gold Coast, Australia.
"To be (financially) independent is good. But in India, except for cricket, no sports body can function without grant from the government. So, we will continue to get grant from the sports ministry," said the IOA chief said in the presence of sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Batra also announced that India will be represented by 227 athletes in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, which will be the second biggest-ever contingent.
Edelweiss Financial Services Limited, India's leading diversified financial company, will be the sponsor of the Indian contingent for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as well as the 2018 and 2019 National Games.
Batra also announced Raymond as IOA's official styling partner and Shiv Naresh Sports as its official sports apparel partner for the Commonwealth Games.
The announcement was made in the presence of the IOA top brass, including Secretary General Rajeev Mehta, and sportspersons like Dipa Karmarkar, HS Prannoy, Jitu Rai, Manu Bhaker, Anu Raj Singh, Manpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh and Rani Rampal among others.
Rathore, on his part, said that transparency in the functioning of the IOA and National Sports Federation was of paramount importance in the government's bid to raise the sporting profile of the country. He said that provisions regarding the transparency in the functioning of the sports bodies will be incorporated into the Sports Code.
"Transparency in the functioning of the IOA and the NSFs is very important and we will incorporate the provisions regarding how to make them transparent in the Sports Code. The IOA, the NSFs and the Sports Ministry should sit together and find out what is required to make improvement in the functioning of the sports bodies," the minister said.
He also called upon the IOA and the NSFs to try and generate revenue on their own, taking advantage of the recent interests shown by the corporate sector to invest in sports.
"The biggest sponsor of Indian sports till now has been the government of India and we will continue to do so. All the federations should work towards making themselves financially independent and generate revenue of their own," he said.
"The ministry, the IOA and the NSFs are mainly responsible for the running of Indian sports and no stakeholder cannot work alone, we should work together."
Talking about the upcoming Commonwealth Games, he said the ministry has provided the best facilities and best possible funding and it's now for the athletes to deliver.
"We have left no stone unturned in providing the athletes with the best facilities with the best resources. The planning has been done by the federation, sportspersons themselves and the coaches.
"We were not just providing funding for their training, we went a step ahead by providing Rs 50,000 per month pocket allowance so that they do not have to look over the shoulders of their parents for other requirements," Rathore added.
"Commonwealth Games are a stepping stone to the Asian Games and then the 2020 Olympics. We are putting special officers to take care of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) athletes so that their training, funding, coordination with the coaches and federation is done so that there is minimum time between requirement generated and resources delivered," he said.
Rathore, an Olympic silver medallist shooter, said he would expect an impressive show by the CWG-bound athletes but also advised them to win fairly.
"We want to win more medals than last time but it should not be that we have to win at all cost. We want to win fair and with pride. We need self-discipline, not from the athletes only but also from the officials," he said.
Asked about IOA's recent decision to do away with the practice of the women athletes wearing saree during the opening ceremony in favour of blazers, he said "I leave these decisions to the IOA. They will think the best for the country."
On the issue of whether shooting will be there in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Rathore said, "We are trying to persuade the Birmingham organisers to include shooting in the CWG."
IOA Secretary General Secretary Mehta said that the issue will be taken up during a meeting of the Commonwealth Games Federation during the Gold Coast CWG in April.