The Tokyo 2020 Olympics-bound Indian shooters will have to take the National Rifle Association of India’s consent for singing any new contracts. The move is aimed at protecting the shooters from exploitation, getting them the values worth their talent and enable them focus on the major goal ahead – the upcoming Olympics.
As the nation celebrates shooting 15 quota berths for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the governing body for sport has taken a leaf out of its own history at the Rio Games three years ago to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.
Twelve shooters were representing India in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. None could hit the target well enough to be on the podium.
India has won a record 15 quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The national governing body for shooting, NRAI has made a bold decision to ensure that the shooters who have booked Olympic quota are not exploited or distracted. To implement its vision, the NRAI has asked the Olympic-bound shooters and their families to sign a “bond” that they will ink no commercial deal without informing the NRAI about the contract and taking its permission.
NRAI president Raninder Singh has made it mandatory for the shooters to adhere to the guidelines. Raninder is also determined to ensure that even those who have been signed contracts are not exploited. “We (NRAI) will go and get a stay on those contracts. I will go as a national federation and say my child is being exploited,” said the NRAI president with a strong resolve to ensure that all one-sided contracts, which do not reward a shooter as per his or her worth, will be suspended.
Raninder is targeting at least four medals from the Tokyo 2020 shooting competition. “Our sport will be shut. The government is spending ₹30 crore a year,” Scroll.in has reported Raninder as saying. “Nobody will keep backing it like this if we go like Fanney Khan and return empty-handed.”
“My neck is on the block. I promised we would recover from Rio. We have worked damn hard to get here. Everything is on the line. We have to make sure we apply our minds and prepare for the last 10 months.”
He further added that introduction of the code of conduct for sponsorship deals is part of the plan to protect shooters from exploitation. “They can’t think that they can go off doing what (trap shooter) Ronjan Singh Sodhi did – start earning and believing he had won the gold medal before he reached London (Olympics) even,” Singh said.
“I will even ask the families – father and mother – to sign a bond that you are responsible for this athlete, you cannot misuse this athlete’s standing for financial gain.”
Without naming the shooter, Raninder revealed how a contract signed by a “world number one, 16-year-old boy” with a talent management company was not in his interest. “One particular athlete had signed a contract with some social media site for ₹2.5 lakh,” he said. “He is number one in the world. Is that justified? There are number 15s in the world who are earning ₹55-60 lakh a year. Why? Because the poor chap doesn’t know as he comes from a humble background. He is a 16-year-old. The parents are farmers… they may not be aware.
“I am not saying you don’t sign a sponsorship deal. But I want to make sure you don’t sell yourself for ₹50,000 and you sell yourself for ₹50 lakh. You come to us, take our permission and then sign it. I am not a communist, I believe in the free market.”
In yet another move, the NRAI president stressed that no shooters will be allowed to train outside of the country. The NRAI also plans to hire mentors – former Olympians or world champions – for the shooters.
“They will all train in New Delhi,” he said. “Nobody is going to Japan, China, Switzerland… nobody is going anywhere. You can go for ammo testing, grips, change of barrel. But the athlete can bring whoever they want and train in New Delhi. If they want to train at their home, we don’t mind. We will keep track of everything they are doing.”
The NRAI will meet with the shooters and coaches after the National Championships, scheduled to be held in December.