This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Prashant Kapila. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why I Think Our Government Shouldn’t Be Spending On Athletes For The Olympics

More from Prashant Kapila

By Prashant Kapila:

India’s campaign in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio ended with our tenacious and intrepid athletes winning two medals. The voluble media, ever vigilant for an issue to wrap their tentacles around, have latched on this topic, with calls for sacking the sports federation apparatchiks (officials) and increasing the budgetary sanctions for athletes. The government for its part has announced a task force which will prepare an action plan for the next three Olympic games.

Amidst all the heat and dust of the manufactured dissent caused by the media uproar, it will surely do us justice to pause and catch our breaths.

So first things first, let us look at the mission of Olympic Spirit which is and I quote, “to build a peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Lofty words indeed which in the true spirit of doublespeak intend to obfuscate the reality of the Games as money grabbing enterprise which pits country against country to fight like gladiators for the ‘real’ winners, which of course is the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC earned a revenue of 6 billion dollars in 2012, all while being a not-for-profit organisation. Of course, the IOC which is headquartered in Lausanne in Switzerland does not disclose how it spends the money, for in what is best described, a convenient coincidence, Switzerland does not require not-for-profits to disclose their financial details.

But, this diverts us from the main issue. India according to numerous news reports, spent between Rs. 30 Lakhs and 1 Crore on each of the 118 athletes in the contingent. The amount seems large enough, but then we are told that even more money is required.

This is certainly true; the Olympics are no more an event where amateurs driven by their passion for their sports strive to succeed. Huge sums of money now fuel Olympic success, large support staff of coaches, physical therapists, masseurs, psychologists, and dieticians.

The latest technology and medical knowledge is pressed into service to record every possible quantifiable data point of the human body so that the athlete will peak on the day of the competition.

It, therefore, should not come as a surprise that Olympic success is correlated with one factor only, the amount spent on the athletes. Great Britain, which won 67 medals in Rio, spent £387 million on its athletes.

Reports calculate the cost per medal to be £5 million. As a whole, the UK spends £1.5 billion on sports compared to India which spent £500 million. While Britain can afford such luxuries, can we or should we look to spend so much on the glories of a few individuals.

The proponents of the Olympic juggernaut will say yes. They will resolutely state benefits like an increased international visibility and influence, and the growth of a sports culture in the country, all of which non-measurable. These benefits, however, if we look closely are not worth the amount, which we would need to spend to become an Olympic power.

Take for instance the claim that an increased medal tally will signal India’s ascendancy in the world. This is a highly specious claim.

We are no longer living in the Cold-War era where the world powers dedicate their efforts and money to getting a high medal tally, often at the expense of the starving masses, and the athletes own well being. There was a time when the totalitarian states of the communists could increase their own control over their subjects by claiming world domination through Olympic domination.

In that era of isolation, where information could not easily cross the world, the Olympics were certainly a means to weigh global prestige. In the present day and age, there are far more important indicators of a country’s development and in world politics, health, education and income and not some ideal of Olympic success as measure for a country that  has ‘made it.’

The most compelling argument for a withdrawal from funding Olympic athletes may be this: does the state have a duty towards funding individual triumphs, which have no direct bearing on the rest of the citizenry?

If so, then why don’t we have government funding of talent hunt competitions? Surely, singers, stand-up comedians, Bollywood actors, dancers, chefs all have the same and a perhaps greater amount of national and international prestige.

These people work hard as athletes and contribute even more to the economy and the development of culture and soft power. While millions starve to death, people die for lack of medical care, and countless children have no access to schools, is it not immoral that the government spends taxpayers money on a few?

Or is it another sign of hypnotism by the media where a mass spectacle is used to ensure that the proletariat forgets the most pressing issues?

In any case, the most successful nation in the Olympics, The United States of America, does not give any federal funding to its athletes. The US Olympic Committee does not get even one penny of the taxpayer’s money.

Instead, it raises funds through the sale of broadcasting rights and sponsorship and funding by corporates. Even this in many cases is not sufficient to cover athletes expenses, and many athletes who end up on the podium have to raise their own money through internet crowd-funding schemes, acting in TV shows, modelling and getting part-time jobs.

Further, even the grants to the individual sports associations are entirely performance based, and a dip in performance in the Olympics usually leads to a cut in the funding.

In case the government does sponsor the Olympic Associations, the least, which can be done, is to ensure that the funding is directly tied to the athlete’s performance so that there is some sort of rationality in the funding mechanism.

This in no way an excuse for the government to not fulfil it’s responsibility to develop sporting infrastructure. Sports are an inextricable part of education and a key factor for the development of a healthy society. However, this responsibility of the government is only limited to providing basic infrastructure to ensure access to sports to all.

There is no justification to posit that individual avocations must be funded. While the sight of our citizens clutching a few shiny medals may make us proud, we cannot overlook the millions spent for a two week carnival, is a bad investment, to say the least.
_

Image source: Getty Images

More from Prashant Kapila

Similar Posts

By Belwal Bhog

By Aaditya Kanchan

By Nabeeha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below