With eye on Tokyo Olympics, SAI extends contracts of 32 foreign coaches

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has extended the contract of 32 foreign coaches in 11 disciplines till September 30, 2021. The contracts of many coaches was slated to end in September this year.

SAI said that the decision was taken to ensure that athletes bound for Tokyo Olympics, which has been postponed by a year due to COVID-19 pandemic, can retain continuity in their training with the same coaches.

Speaking about the decision, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “The postponement of Tokyo Olympics by a year makes it imperative that the same coaches be retained so that athletes are not disadvantaged in any way.”

“A new coach takes time to understand an athlete and the athlete needs time to understand the training process of a coach. We don’t have that kind of time now.”

Rijiju had earlier announced that coaches, both Indian and foreign, will be hired for at least four years or one Olympic cycle to ensure continuity in training. The four-year contract will be handed out with an eye on the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.

The interim extension of one year till 2021 is an immediate step to ensure athletes have the same coaches till the Tokyo Olympics. The further extension of contract for four years will be decided on the basis of the performance of the coach and recommendation from the respective National Sports Federations.

The contracts, though for four years, will be reviewed annually and extended on the basis of a coach’s overall performance, indicated by the performance of athletes in major international events.