With the Tokyo Olympics getting postponed by a year, sportspersons across the world will now have the arduous task of once again realigning their preparations as they also try to stave off the coronavirus threat.
But the delay also entails a tremendous amount of financial hit for organisations and players. This is why Lakshya Foundation is planning to get its players an insurance cover which will safeguard them against event delays and cancellations.
"While there are no exclusive policies in the Indian market, we are in talks with designing an insurance policy that can help a sportsperson in case of loss of opportunity. This cover can be included in the player's contract, which will help them in getting regular allowance to continue with their practice sessions even if games or tournaments get delayed or postponed," Rajat, an insurance and risk management expert, told Moneycontrol.
Lakshya, a not-for-profit organisation that nurtures upcoming talent in sports, expected 10 of its athletes to compete in 2020 Olympics.
However, with Olympics now set to be held next year in July, the organisation is worried about managing costs.
"With economic slowdown in the market due to coronavirus, priorities are going to change. Earlier, people had some money to spare for this (supporting sportspersons). But now things look difficult. People who are supporting us will keep doing so but no new entity will support us. We have to look at new resources and new opportunities to support sportspersons. It costs around Rs four crore to Rs five crore a year to support sportspersons. It will be a challenge to raise that kind of money. This is why we are looking at an insurance cover for our players," said Sunder Iyer, Secretary, Lakshya.
But it is not physical fitness alone that is worrying Iyer. He stressed that keeping the athletes mentally agile is equally important.
"There is something called peaking during big games. Athletes peak at a particular time when there is a competition. But everything has gone for a toss due to postponement of Tokyo Olympics 2020," said Iyer.
He added that while the players' performance is high, there is no competition and it is going to hit the players' psyche.
Even middleweight boxer Pooja Rani, who qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, thinks that one year is a long time. However, she added that the decision to postpone Olympics 2020 was important as health comes first.
She also said that an insurance cover is a welcome move as this way players will focus on their game and wouldn't have to worry about arranging money for diet, equipment, among others.
Arranging for even basic needs for many Indian players is a difficulty as not all of them come from a strong economic background.
“We work with sportspersons at the grassroot level. And there are many players who are associated with us who have faced hard times to continue in sports. A mother had to pawn her jewelry to support her daughter who is a shooter. Tennis player Ankita Raina, who is now India number one, also struggled for finances but now she is at the top," said Iyer.
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