IOA requests Sports Ministry for financial help of over Rs 200 crore

Tourists wear protective facemasks near India Gate in New Delhi on February 13, 2020. Getty Images

Less than a month ago, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and its member national sports federations had donated nearly Rs. 10 crore to the PM Cares and various Chief Minister's Relief Funds to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. On Sunday, though, it was the IOA which was making a request for funds, calling on the Sports Ministry to sanction a one-time financial assistance of over Rs 200 crore for various sports governing bodies in the country, saying sponsors won't come forward until next year making "hand-holding by government" a necessity.

Citing the halt on sports activities due to the pandemic, IOA President Narinder Batra, in a letter to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, said if help is not granted it would be difficult to restart operations smoothly once the lockdown to contain the virus is lifted, according to a PTI report. Batra requested the ministry to grant Rs. 10 crore for the IOA, Rs. 5 crore each for National Sports Federations (NSFs) of Olympic sports, Rs. 2.50 crore each for the NSFs of non-Olympic sports and Rs. 1 crore each for the State Olympic Associations. This adds up to approximately Rs. 220 crore.

"Due to the the ongoing pandemic and lockdown, we the sports bodies are unlikely to get any sponsorship and hence we may find it very difficult to restart our activities effectively," Batra wrote. "We do not see sponsors coming forward till/and (sic) after Olympics in 2021 to assist us and hence we will require handholding by the Union Government," he added. Batra said the assistance will "enable them to tide over the cash crunch being faced by them".

The IOA had donated Rs. 71 lakh to the PM Cares fund, while Hockey India, which Batra headed until taking over as head of the International Hockey Federation, had donated Rs. 2 crores to the same fund, half of which was donated on Saturday and half in April.

"The whole world now is facing an extremely difficult time due to the Covid -19 Pandemic... It [the pandemic] has affected the business, employment as well as the sports activities in their respective countries," he said. "All sports competitions training and other related activities have come to a standstill and now in order to restart all these activities, it will require lot of financial support to IOA/NSFs/SOAs," he added.

Batra said the IOA is ready for an audit of the funds if they are allotted. "After the pandemic when restrictions are lifted, we then will have to restart and rebuild all over once again. There are many conditions which will now be attached with running of daily affairs and they will require money/cash to implement," Batra said. "We will have no objection for providing with the funds utilisation certificates, duly certified & verified by C&AG approved auditor/s," he added.