On 31st July 2016, Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi reached Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi, where he flagged off the Run for Rio event. He cheered for the largest Indian Contingent of athletes at the multi sporting spectacle that will start on 5th August in Brazil. There were more than 20000 school children who participated in Run for Rio program. The five kilometer run from Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium had attracted the youth and they expressed the nation’s support to the Indian athletes for the Olympics. The prime objective of this event was to boost up the confidence level of our athletes and to wish them all the best in the forthcoming Rio Olympics Competition. This event has connected public, especially the young generation with the Olympic spirit and power of sports.

Prime Minister Shri Modi addressed the flagging off ceremony. He said, “Whenever an Indian team goes abroad, it’s not just on the field of play but in their behavior. I am confident that our players will win their conduct during the games.”

According to him, sports is a necessity of life. Every individual should involve sports activities in their daily routine in order to stay healthy and fit. For 119 Indian athletes, who have qualified for the Olympics and will represent India there, he wished them best of luck. He conveyed this to the members of the India contingent that there will many athletes from all over the world, but there are 125 crore Indians standing behind to encourage the players. He also mentioned that it would be a great honor if the players will host the tri-color flag on the occasion of the 70th Independence Day during that period.

Prime Minister Shri Modi said that every athlete of our country has worked hard to earn their position and we all gathered here to support the confidence of our gems. According to him, our athletes will not only win the hearts of people across the world but also show the world what our nation is all about. Those who do not get the chance to perform, they should focus on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For that, every district of our country must ensure that at least one sportsman from the district qualifies for the Olympics next time. PM Modi also ensured the providence of familiar conditions and arrangements for the players who will perform in the Olympics.

He praised the athletes by saying that our players have great energy, talent and ambition to perform in the games. Their dreams of representing India in the Olympics will turn into reality. Our government has always focused on the Sports Department and we have taken many initiatives to boost up the confidence level of our players. Earlier, our players reached just before two days of the main event of the Olympics, due to which they did not time to adjust with the environment and conditions. But, during this time, we arranged their flights before 15 days so that they become familiar with the weather and surrounding conditions. In order to provide good Indian food there to the players, the government has come up with the special budget. With this, the players will get different Indian dishes in the menu. Moreover, the government will also provide the same daily allowance as that of other countries. The government is also looking forward to provide global level exposure to the athletes so that they can choose their training program and trainer at their preferred location anywhere in the world. For this, the government has invested more than 2.5 crore rupees for every player. Earlier, the total budget for the players was approx. 15 to 20 crore rupees but this time we have extended the limit.

PM Modi also released a publication of the SAI (Sports Authority of India) on Indian Olympics Journey which will provide information about the achievement of Indian Players and their plans for the future. In order to pump up the Olympics fever in the country, similar runs will also be organized in the regional centers of SAI like Sonepat, Gandhinagar, Kolkata, Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram.  Along with this, an exhibition event was organized at the Central Park in New Delhi. This carnival type scenario will not only boost up the people to encourage the players but also give positivity to the youngsters to represent their country with great enthusiasm. The sports ministry has also planned for a food park at Kharak Singh Marg in the Capital in collaboration with NDMC to coincide with the Rio Games inaugural. In our country, the sport ministry has also focused on providing facilities and sports infrastructure at the grassroots level, especially for the popular and indigenous players who have achieved success in various field.

Contributor: Sunpreet Kaur