Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

New Delhi: The Olympic Task Force, formed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year as an outcome of India’s unsuccessful Olympic campaign in Rio de Janeiro, has recommended major reformation of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and suggested that the qualified professionals should swap places with bureaucrats and the authority must be given complete financial autonomy.

The task force has also urged that it should mainly be responsible to run the academies of excellence, a way to improve India’s performance at the Olympics.

“Instead of deputing government officers to the SAI, the new SAI would be fully professionalised and only specialists on contractual basis with clearly defined deliverables, shall be appointed on the board and all functions down the line,” states the report.

“Full financial autonomy needs to be given to the SAI. They should be allowed to raise the resources to run their various programs,” it further stated.

The responsibility to implement the recommendations will be on the Prime Minister Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Sports.

The report was formed in the aftermath of India’s unsuccessful campaign at Olympics last year. It was mandated to come up with suggestions to improve the performance of India at the 2020, 2024 and 2028 Olympics.

Earlier this week, the eight-member committee which included Olympians like Abhinav Bindra, Pullela Gopichand, and Viren Rasquinha, submitted the final 144-page report to the government. SAI Deputy Director General Sandip Pradhan was the convenor. It has also been recommended that sportspersons should be considered active only till the age of 28. Afterward, depending on their national ranking, they are reskilled as a coach or referee.

For various IPL-style leagues, the task force has advocated the tax exemptions for the first five years to make the effort sustainable. Meanwhile, one of the major changes it has recommended was redefining the role of the SAI. A greater part of the stadiums, especially in the capital city Delhi, come under the SAI. The authority has quite often been criticised for providing poorly facilities to athletes and being too bureaucratic.

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