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New Delhi: Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Friday asked the Indian athletes and officials, who are part of the Asian Games contingent to behave responsibly on and off the field during the mega sporting event starting next week in Indonesia.
India is sending a 800-plus contingent, including 572 athletes, to the Asian Games, to be held from August 18 to September 2 in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.
“It is a matter of great pride you (athletes) are representing the country in the Games and you have earned this privilege. When you take part in the Games and when you stay in the Games Village, you will lose your individual identity and your identity there is just one name that is ‘India’,” Rathore said at the send-off ceremony of the Indian contingent organised by the Indian Olympic Association.
IOA president Narinder Batra, Secretary General Rajeev Mehta, Indian contingent’s Chef de Mission Brij Bhushan Singh Sharan were present at the ceremony. A few of the country’s top athletes, including hockey stalwart Sardar Singh, turned up at the ceremony. The four deputy Chefs de Mission, including R K Sacheti, were also introduced to the gathering.
Rathore said he hoped India would win more medals than the previous edition but urged the participating athletes not to think too much about the results.
“You have been preparing for years now and must be having dreams (to win medals). Now you are approaching nearer to your event. I would advice you to remain confident that those thousands of hours of your training and hard work will help you. Please don’t worry about the results too much and you should remain confident of your abilities. The results will come running after you,” he said.
He also thanked the IOA for giving visibility to the Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India in the send-off ceremony.
Later, speaking to reporters, Rathore said selection of the athletes for the Asian Games was the prerogative of the IOA and the NSFs, and the ministry would not want to interfere in it unless there were major discrepancies.
“Regarding the selection process of the Asian Games contingent, we will leave it to the IOA and NSFs. It is best not to have too many cooks involved in the process. So, the responsibility of selection (of athletes) lies wit the IOA, but of course if major issues or discrepancies are brought up to us we will look into it,” said Rathore, himself an Olympic silver medallist shooter.
“We will pay due respect to what the IOA has recommended,” he added.
He said he was all for a system where sportspersons are given the highest priority. A few days back, Rathore had said that a games period will be made mandatory in schools after reducing the syllabus by 50 percent by next year.
Asked about that, he said, “HRD Minister (Prakash Javadekar) is looking into it. What I have heard from Javadekar ji is that by 2019, the syllabus will be reduced and a games period will be made mandatory.”
Addressing the gathering, Batra expressed hope that the country would return with more medals from the Asian Games than last time.
“We have named a 800-plus contingent, including 572 athletes and we will compete in 36 sports. I am hoping that we will get more medals then the last edition,” he said. (PTI)