181124 Pema Khandu
Salman Khan, Kiren Rijiju and Arunachal Pradesh Image Credit: PTI

Kiren Rijiju, the Sports Minister of India, is ready to put plans in motion to ensure that sports remain sustainable without fansacross the country for the forseeable future. The coronavirus pandemic has put a freeze on the global sporting calendar with even the Tokyo Olympics being postponed to next year.

The ministry has banned spectators in stadiums for any events, including cricket matches, in one of its earliest advisories on the pandemic before all sporting events were brought to a halt.

“Not only sports, life has changed, we can’t live like before and we have to make sure to follow the new norms and sports also will come up in a new way,” said Rijiju. “We will have to plan to make sports more interesting without fans. Stadiums in future will not be filled with fans.”

Rijiju said that the ministry will be looking to help those sports that don’t get significant television coverage.

“IPL (Indian Premier League) is rich and gets revenue from television but there are others which need help. We will help those sports and federations. We have big aims and want India to be in the top-ten nations’ list in terms of winning medals.”

Rijiju had earlier said that the ministry is planning a phase-wise re-opening of training camps for the athletes. “First of all we will identify those players and teams who have qualified for the Olympics. Second, those who are going to play the Olympic qualification competitions, we will allow these athletes to practice,” he said.

“We won’t be able to open camps for those who are not in qualification reckoning soon. Maybe that will go beyond August or September.”