Has Adille Sumariwalla, president of Athletics Federation of India, bit off more than he can chew when he tweeted on the expense incurred by the government on Tokyo Olympics Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra?
Former international athlete in sprints who represented India in the 1980 Moscow Games and coach of Zenia Ayrton, the fastest women athlete in India in the late 1980s, Adille on Saturday in his tweet said: “Today we have achieved so much purely because of a successful partnership of AFI and SAI …’’ and went on to say Rs 7 crore was spent by the government on gold medallist Neeraj Chopra.
The break up included 450 days of foreign training, appointing a foreign coach, 1157 days at national coaching camp in NIS, Patiala and 177 javelins including a javelin throw machine.
The opinion of sportspersons including coaches and sports lovers was sharply divided between those who supported and those who felt that such posts should have been avoided. A fan remarked, “these things are not meant to be disclosed on public platform… Government had done its job and nothing else … That’s it”. Adille replied to that post saying: “It is public money, taxpayers money. It’s on government website. … Why should we hide? We’re proudly supporting our champions and will support them even further.” (sic)
A Dronacharya awardee coach who produced medal winners in World, Asian and Olympic levels was annoyed with the post. “This (the tweet by the AFI chief) is not good. Why is he not disclosing the expenses of non-medallists and other participants?” said the coach, requesting anonymity. N Annavi, former international high jumper-turned-national coach and a Southern Railway official from Tiruchchirappalli in Tamil Nadu told indianexpress.com: “I have no qualms with the AFI chief’s revelation. It’s better to come out in the public domain than coming to know through RTIs by activists. The general public should know it is my personal view. Remember how much money was spent on hockey teams by the Orissa state government.”
A veteran sportswriter said that people should know that training a champion is an “expensive affair. Seeing this (the tweet) people will stop wondering why with our population of over a billion we are not producing so many world champions.”
However, a sports administrator dismissed the AFI chief’s tweet as a PR stunt and in poor taste. “It is very clear he is bidding for SAI or even the government eyeing a higher post for him. I can say for sure that he is playing to the gallery.”
“How low can you get,” quipped James Tharian, an NRI and athletics aficionado while Ragesh D, additional secretary with the Kerala government also a sports fan, remarked: “Very unfortunate from the part of AFI to disclose such things.”