New Delhi: Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday said India has to identify sporting talent at a young age to increase its Olympic medals tally.
"To make India a sporting power, we have to do a lot of work. We have a population of around 130 crores but we have only 28 medals in Olympics. To change this, we have to identify talent at a young age and programmes like 'Khelo India' are aimed at it," Rijiju told ANI.
The minister said the government will expand the sporting infrastructure in the country to attract more people towards sports.
"We will try to expand the SAI center's in the country. We want the involvement of corporate houses to get funds. Ministry funds several private academies for various sports (disciplines)," he added.
Asked about the Indian Olympic Association's (IOC) proposal of boycotting 2020 Commonwealth Games (CWG) due to the exclusion of the shooting from the event, Rijiju said: "Apart from issue related to the games, it is also a political matter.
Commonwealth nations are those countries who were ruled by the British Empire. India is the largest country in the Commonwealth and gets its most of the medals from shooting. I have asked the Indian Olympic Association president to talk to the CWG president regarding the matter and if in case it will not get resolved, we will try to solve it at government level."
International Tennis Federation (ITF) on August 23 postponed the Davis Cup tie between India and Pakistan to November after an in-depth security review of the current situation in Pakistan was done by independent expert security advisors.
The Indian team was scheduled to travel to Pakistan for the first time in 55 years to participate in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-1 tie at Islamabad on September 14-15.
"According to the Olympic charter, bilateral relations between two countries should not hamper the sports events. Whether there will be a sporting event between Pakistan and India or not will be decided by the government as it is the political matter. At the international event, both the countries will play but in the bilateral series they will require a green signal from the government," Rijiju said.
Rijiju also seemed unhappy with the decision of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) suspending National Doping Test Lab (NDTL) for six months for "not following the international protocols".
"It is unfortunate that NDTL was suspended for six months. I'm the head of the National Anti Doping Agency as I'm holding the office of sports minister. When I took charge I came to know that WADA had issued a notice to the lab regarding their protocols. I was surprised because all the matters were resolved and we will appeal against it," Rijiju said.
Rijiju also referred to 'Fit India Movement' which will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 29.
"On August 29, PM Narendra Modi will launch the 'Fit India Movement'. We have prepared for the event and hope that the whole nation will join us. On that day, we will take a pledge to take some time from for fitness. We want to spread awareness among people about fitness. Secondly, we will try to take the necessary steps to uplift the sports in the country," Rijiju said.
"As 2020 Tokyo Olympics are just 10 months away, we are focusing on the current talent and ensuring that we send our best contingent at the Olympics," he added.