"Sub-standard" sports equipment have been given to Indian players participating in the ongoing Rio Olympics, Congress member Kumari Selja alleged in Rajya Sabha today.
Raising the issue during the Question Hour, Selja said, "Many interviews of sportspersons have come out. Some of our players have said the facilities in Rio are not at par with the facilities that were provided during the Commonwealth Games here. They have also talked about equipments."
"Sub-standard equipments were provided to them to compete at the international level. If a minister and officials go, it is of no use as sub-standard equipments are given to our players," she said.
In the absence of Sports Minister Vijay Goel, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha replied to the queries.
Responding to the charge, Sinha said "we have provided very specialised and customised training... The government is providing emphasis on sports. Our Olympic contingent has 118 sportspersons. In 2012, there were 81. We have gone from 81 to 118, a growth of 50 per cent."
He also said that 27 foreign coaches were selected to provide required support to the players. "Whatever facilities we can, we are giving," he said.
To a query on nurturing talent at the school level, Sinha said "If we have to do well in Olympics, we have to provide resources and training right from young age," and highlighted facilities being provided under the 'Khelo India' and other schemes to encourage sports in the country.
Sports Authority of India (SAI) is also implementing several sports promotional schemes for development of structured system at grassroot level to engage young boys and girs in the age group of 10-14, he said, adding SAI is developing 13 centres of excellence, of which five are ready.
"In Gujarat, the budget for sports is Rs 500 crore. There is good infrastructure out there. We are providing facilities to schools and supplementing their efforts through Khelo India," Sinha said.
Asked if the government plans to set up sports schools on lines of Sainik schools, the Minister said, "The government is considering this issue. ...We are working with army also."
He said the SAI has identified 11,773 sportpersons -- 8,243 boys and 3,530 girls. They are being trained in 27 sports disciplines under residential and non-residential basis in 251 SAI centres.
SAI has established 12 regional/academic institutions having international standard sports infrastructure and other allied facilities to train the potential athletes selected from their jurisdictional states, he added.