India will be amongst the top 10 medal winning countries by the 2028 Olympic Games, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju predicted on Friday.
Kiren Rijiju on India's Olympics prospects
"By 2028 Olympics, India will be in the top 10 medal list. Without setting an ambitious target, you cannot achieve the goal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created an Olympic task force and we are making certain preparations," he said.
Rijiju said that the Central government was leaving no stone unturned in a bid to nurture talents that could bring India laurels in the 2028 Olympic. He was speaking at the virtual launch of 'enJogo' App, designed by Bhaichung Bhutia Football School to provide online training modules to footballers.
"We have now identified talented athletes for the Junior TOP Scheme and they will be given a monthly stipend of Rs.25,000 each. These junior players will train for free and the Rs.25,000 they will get is like a salary they earn for their families," said Rijiju.
The sports minister also acknowledged that he had received harsh comments from some sections on his ambitious projection. "I know many people wonder how it would happen, many people gave comments...not so nice. But it is a democratic country, people will have their own views and we do not think we should respond to those comments," he said.
"Our job is to focus on what we want to achieve. We have to set targets, set the bar higher and focus on what we can do. I feel the target [of being in top 10 in 2028] is achievable," he said.
To a question, the minister said the COVID-19 pandemic situation has made it difficult to say when the crowds will return to the stadiums. "I will not be able to make a call on that. I don't know what will be the situation in the coming months," he said.
"I wish the fans are there in the stadium as soon as possible, we are hopeful of that happening. But health and safety of the public is also our priority," he added.
The Home Ministry has allowed sports gatherings of up to 100 people from September 21, lifting the total ban.