Driven by India's best medal haul in Tokyo Olympics, the government will expand the size and scope of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) keeping the 2024 and 2028 Games in mind, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said on Sunday. During a felicitation programme organised for the triumphant Indian athletes, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) awarded Olympc champion Neeraj Chopra with a cash award of Rs 75 lakh.
This is the first time, IOA is offering cash incentives to Olympic medallists. The silver medallists -- wrestler Ravi Dahiya and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu -- received Rs Rs 50 lakh each for their heroics in Tokyo. The bronze medallists -- shutter P V Sindhu, boxer Lovlina Borgohain and wrestler Bajrang Punia -- got Rs 25 lakh after their fine show at the recently-concluded Olympics.
"I assure you we are going to increase TOPS so that more and more athletes can be benefitted," a delighted Thakur said on the sidelines of the programme. Optimistically, he added, "When such a function is held after 2024 Olympics, I hope the medallists are so many that there is no space left here (for them to occupy)."
Each member of the bronze-medal winning men's hockey team got richer by Rs 10 lakh each. The coach of gold winner Chopra will receive Rs 12.5 lakh, while coaches of Dahiya and Chanu got Rs 10 lakh. The coach for the bronze winners was given Rs 7.5 lakh. It was also announced that Rs 1 lakh will be given to all 128 Tokyo Olympians.
All the medallists were present. Besides, the medal-winning National Sports Federations (NSFs) were presented with cheques of Rs 30 lakh each. Along with Thakur and the other dignitaries present, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra, too, lauded the country's athletes for their performance at the showpiece.
"There was a lot of gloom and despondency in the country due to COVID-19 before the Olympics. But your (athletes) performance in Tokyo Olympics has changed all that and you have brought smile to 1.3 billion people of the country," Batra said. "You must have realised what you all have done for the country." Chopra's coach Klaus Bartonietz and Jaiveer Choudhary, who introduced the athlete to the Shivaji Stadium in Panipat, did not turn up for the event.