The craze for Olympics in India is historic! For the first time, people are glued to the TV and mobile screens, not for cricket, not for KBC, nor any other media and entertainment event – but for the Olympics. Be it hockey, weightlifting, boxing, Javelin throw or wrestling – the people of the country were desperately waiting for Indian events at the Olympics and cheered for all the sportsperson.
The players of the hockey team – men and women – received much praise and admiration from the common people of the country despite the fact that they lost in the semi-finals. Sportspersons like Mirabai Chanu, Lovlina Borgohain, Ravi Dahiya, and Neeraj Chopra became overnight stars. Social media was flooded with updates on sports events and coverage of these sportsmen and women.
There was a massive coverage of the Olympics in Indian media, which is for better or worse known for airing entertainment-cum-news and cricket coverage, and rarely touched any other sporting event.
#Tokyo2020 | Shivpal Singh bows out!
— India Today Sports (@ITGDsports) August 4, 2021
This Olympics is probably the start of what is going to be a golden era of India’s representation in international sports events. India sent its largest-ever contingent to the Tokyo Olympics, which tells us that more and more Indian players are now qualifying for the mega event. With practice and development of ecosystem, the performance of the athletes is set to improve, and that means more and more participants would be able to bag medals in coming years.
The growing interest of the people in Olympic sports means there is an opportunity for the commercialization of the sports our athletes participate in. Commercialization attempts are already happening through the Indian Super League (football), the Hockey India League (hockey), Premier Badminton League (badminton), the Pro Wrestling League (wrestling), the Ultimate Table Tennis League (table tennis), and the Pro Volleyball League (volleyball), but none of them have achieved the success level of the IPL or any cricketing event as such.
However, given the growing interest of the audience, the investors would be willing to throw money and managers would be willing to lend their expertise in the commercialization of these sports, and in the coming years, some Olympic sports may prove a great success like pro kabaddi league and IPL.
The Pro Kabaddi League (kabaddi) is the commercialization attempt that became a huge success but sadly it is not an Olympic sport. In almost every sport in which a commercialization attempt has been made, the performance/participation of the country at international competitions has increased. So, this is one area where the ball is already rolling and in the next few years, it will start bearing fruit.
Some administrative reforms are also needed for success in Olympics. Bureaucratic interference in 59 sports federations recognized by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) needs to go. The corruption and incompetence of SAI is well-known and one of the reasons why BCCI is highly successful is that it is controlled/recognized by the bureaucratic organization under the Ministry of Sports.
If the government had set other sports federations free just like BCCI, they would be efficiently managed and produce better results than they are doing under blood-sucking bureaucrats.
Bronze for #IND!
— Olympics (@Olympics) August 4, 2021
It took more than a century for cricket to be democratized, but the democratization of other sports is expected to happen at a quicker pace given the growing interest of the people in badminton, wrestling, boxing, swimming, and other sports which are held at the Olympics. The people of the country have had an excess of cricket and now it’s time for other sports to rise, and this would happen in less than a decade or so.
The government is also playing its role in the promotion of other sports. Former sports minister Kiran Rijeju and the current sports minister were regularly tweeting about the updates, and extended every possible facility to our contingent. Moreover, Prime Minister Modi has invited the whole Olympic contingent to the Independence Day event at Red Fort.