India wants to improve presence on world stage: Rijiju

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday said the governments policy would be conditioned according to the needs of the sports community. “We want to create a big sports culture in the country so that we can improve our presence in world sport. It is our obligation to raise the level of sport in India,” he said.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the six-day online technical officials’ seminar jointly conducted by the South Asian Athletics Federation (SAFF) and the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Rijiju said the government would frame athlete-centric and sports-centric policies .

“Athletics is the heart and soul of the Olympic Games and we need to raise the level of our athletics,” he said.

“I want to give the young athletes the opportunity to realise their dreams.”

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe complimented SAAF and AFI for conceiving the six-day seminar.

“Our sport simply does not function at any level without the contribution of the technical officials,” he said.

“It would be unrecognisable without one of our sport’s most endearing aspects, the enshrining of the volunteer contribution 24×7.”

Coe said World Athletics’ major task in the time ahead was to keep as many of its competitions intact.

“We owe it to the athletes and the member federations to maintain a structure that we can optimistically look forward to so that we can give the athletes the chance to get back to competition as soon as is possible, but in a fair way,” he said.

Referring to World Athletics decision to suspend the Olympic qualification till December 1 this year, he said the structure would have to be designed so that the athletes return to the competition in a fair way.

“We need to ensure that our athletes get back to competition safely and securely and in a way that does not damage the integrity of all our competitions.

“I know the Indian Federation has embraced technology in a big way not only to reach larger audiences but also to meet the sustainability challenge by getting rid of paper,” he said.

In his opening remarks, AFI President Adille J. Sumariwalla said the federation had been at the forefront of using technology for several years now.

“AFI is the first national federation to host online courses for coaches and technical officials. We also plan on having our annual general meeting on May 2 and all our sub-committee meetings online,” he said.

Asian Athletics Association President Gen. Dahlan Jumaan al-Hamad complimented SAAF and AFI for the initiative to enhance the knowledge of the South Asian region’s technical officials.

SAFF President Lalit K Bhanot said the seminar was a true reflection of the grit, resolve, sportsmanship and love for athletics in the region.

Elite international technical officials who are lined-up to share their experience and knowledge with SAAF officials include Luis Saladie (Spain), Chris Cohen (UK), Piece O’Callaghan (Ireland), Krisztina Horvath (Hungary), Luca Verrascina (Italy) and Yukio Seki (Japan).

–IANS

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