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COVID Effect: Sports Budget Takes Cut of Rs 230.78 Crore, Khelo India Sees the Biggest Reduction

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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt on the national sports budget as the central government on Monday allocated Rs 2596.14 crore for the financial year 2021-22 — a reduction of Rs 230.78 crore when compared to the amount earmarked initially for the previous year.

In the last financial year, the government had allocated Rs 2826.92 crore for sports, which was later revised to Rs 1800.15 crore because of the lack of activity caused by the pandemic.

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This year’s allocated amount is Rs 795.99 crore more than the revised budget of 2020-21.

However, the spending last year was severely impacted after Tokyo Olympics was postponed, domestic events were cancelled in almost all sports and no foreign training and competition was possible for most of the Indian athletes.

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The sports ministry bears the cost of all foreign training and competition, including participation in the Olympics.

“Initially, sports was allocated Rs 2826.92 in last year’s budget which was later revised to Rs 1800.15 after all sporting events across the world came to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” a sports ministry official told PTI, hinting why comparison should not be made with the revised budget of last year.

“There was hardly any activity last year as most of the national camps were closed because of the lockdown.

“In terms of infrastructure development and upgradation of stadiums too, there was hardly any progress because of the pandemic,” the official added, without divulging further details.

The government’s flagship Khelo India programme was handed the biggest reduction — of Rs 232.71 crore — among all sports heads for the 2021-22 budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday.

The financial allocation towards Khelo India programme, which got Rs 890.42 crore in the last budget, was reduced to Rs 657.71 core.

The Sports Authority of India, whose allocation was reduced to Rs 500 crore in the last budget, got a substantial hike this time with the government proposing an increase of Rs 160.41 crore taking the total to Rs 660.41 crore.

The SAI is the nodal organisation to manage nationals camps, provide infrastructure, equipment and other logistics to the country’s sportspersons.

The allocation towards National Sports Federations (NSFs), which received a cold shoulder in the last budget, was also hiked by Rs 35 crore to Rs 280 crore.

As far as incentives for sportspersons are concerned, the budget has proposed to further slash the amount from Rs 70 crore to Rs 53 crore.

The budget for National Sports Development Fund has also been halved to Rs 25 crore.

The allocation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games-SAI stadia renovation was also slashed to Rs 30 crore from Rs 75 last year.

National Welfare Fund for Sportspersons will continue to get the same amount of Rs 2 crore as earlier, while, at Rs 50 crore, there was also no change in the allocation for the enhancement of sports facilities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Laxmi Bai National Institute of Physical Education will continue to get Rs 55 crore, while contribution to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been increased to Rs 2.5 crore from Rs 2 crore.

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