Union Budget 2024: Record Rs 3442 cr boosts India's sports sector

Union Budget 2024: Record Rs 3442 cr boosts India's sports sector

Record budget for India's sports ahead of Paris Olympics milestone

Sports budget

Mumbai: During her speech, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated, "The country is proud of our youth scaling new heights in sports. The highest-ever medal tally in Asian Games and Asian Para Games in 2023 reflects a high confidence level. Chess prodigy and our Number-One ranked player Praggnanandhaa put up a stiff fight against the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsson in 2023. Today, India has over 80 chess grandmasters compared to little over 20 in 2010."

Sports budget allocation 2024-25

  •    Khelo India: Rs 1045 Cr
  •    SAI: Rs 822 Cr
  •    National Sports Development Fund: Rs 18 Cr

Here are the post-budget reactions of India's sporting business stakeholders

Punit Balan Group chairman & managing director Punit Balan shared his thoughts on the budget allocation stating, “The government's proactive stance towards sports through this increased allocation of funds will provide the impetus for Indian athletes to shine brightly in international competitions, contributing to the continued growth and success of the country's success on the global stage. With the Paris Olympics looming on the horizon, we are confident that our youth will make it the best-ever campaign for India.”

Reflecting on the government's sustained commitment to the growth of sports in India, Ultimate Kho Kho CEO and League Commissioner Tenzing Niyogi highlighted, “Last year, we witnessed a Rs 300 crore increase in sports allocations, which contributed to India's success in the Asian and Para-Asian Games. The government's continued commitment is evident in the latest budget, with a total allocation of Rs 3442 crores, which reflects a significant increase from the previous year's budget. The increased allocations not only boost the morale of our athletes but also serve as a testament to the government's vision for developing and nurturing sporting talent. As India gears up for the upcoming Paris Olympics, this heightened financial support will pave the way for a promising era for sports in the country.”

One of the key beneficiaries of this augmented budget is Khelo India, which has received a significant increase from Rs 880 crores to Rs 900 crores.

“The substantial allocation in this year's budget not just for the sports sector but also for Khelo India will play a pivotal role with regard to grassroots development. This support for our athletes across all sporting disciplines will facilitate more participation and lead to more medals at the Olympics and other international tournaments,” commented U Mumba CEO Suhail Chandhok.

Concurring with him, Yuva Kabaddi Series CEO Vikas Gautam emphasised, “The commendable allocation in this year's budget marks a significant stride towards transforming India into a sporting powerhouse. By prioritising grassroots infrastructure via increasing the Khelo India budget, we are not just investing in facilities but nurturing the latent talent that resides in every corner of our nation. This budget reflects a visionary approach, recognizing that the true potential of our athletes lies in the foundation we build for them today. It's a resounding commitment to creating a robust sports ecosystem and with our combined efforts I hope this will fuel the aspirations of our youth and propel India to new heights on the global stage.”

Gamepoint co-founder & CEO Aditya Reddy believes that the impact of sports extends beyond the field, offering massive economic opportunities.

“PM Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the Khelo India Youth Games in Chennai stated that the government has resolved to make the country an important centre of the global sports ecosystem. He also highlighted that sports was not just limited to the field, but also presents a huge economic opportunity, he said the country’s sports-related industry will be worth at least Rs 1 lakh crore in a few years. Given the positive approach of the government towards sports, we hope that post the Lok Sabha elections, the new government will increase the budget allocation and announce new measures for the growth of Indian sports,” noted Aditya Reddy.

Alongside the increased budget allocations, FM Nirmala Sitharaman praised the achievements of the country’s youth in sports and highlighted the confidence level reflected in India’s highest-ever medal tally at last year’s Asian and Para Asian Games during her speech.

In addition, she proudly stated that India now boasts over 80 Chess Grandmasters which is a significant increase from just over 20 in 2010 and sparked optimism among the country’s sporting business stakeholders.

Punit Balan, whose PBG-owned team Balan Alaskan Knights competed in the inaugural Global Chess League (GCL) last year said, “Our FM, Nirmala Sitharaman, acknowledging the remarkable achievements of our youth in sports, particularly in chess, reflects the bright future of the sport in our nation. We take pride in Raunak Sadhwani, the prodigy of Balan Alaskan Knights, being one of India’s 80 Grandmasters.”

The positive sentiments were echoed by Suhail Chandhok who expressed, “As mentioned by FM Nirmala Sitharaman, Indian athletes have been making their presence felt on the International stage and that is a significant indication of our country becoming a sporting powerhouse. Our upGrad Mumba Masters’ grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi, Harika Dronavalli, and Koneru Humpy securing Medals at last year’s Asian Games 2022 have brought immense pride to Indian chess, with Vidit also going on to secure a place in the prestigious Candidates tournament.”

With the continued support from the government, the sports sector in India is poised for further development and a bright future for athletes across various disciplines.