Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Tuesday said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Rs 675 crore for the Khelo India scheme and expressed hope that Team India will complete its highest-ever medal count in the upcoming Asian Games this year.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA), on Tuesday, unveiled the much-anticipated official ceremonial dress and playing kit for the Indian contingent that will compete at the forthcoming 2022 Asian Games scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8.
IOA also conducted a glittering send-off ceremony which was graced by the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur, IOA President and legendary sprinter PT Usha along with other senior officials.
"Earlier in the World University Games, we had won 18 medals during its first 60 years. This time, we have won 26 medals, including 10 gold medals. For Khelo India PM Modi has approved an amount of Rs 675 crore, which is a great news. The sports budget that has been increased by three times under this government. PM Modi motivates his players like no other leader in this world. Call it Bharat, Hindustan or India, our players will bring laurels to the country," said Thakur to the media.
The Indian contingent was represented by Indian hockey goalkeepers PR Sreejesh (men), Savita Punia (women), shooting sensation Manu Bhaker and 2018 Asian Games shot put gold medallist Tajinderpal Singh Toor among sportspersons from many other disciplines.
Speaking on the occasion, Thakur commented, "It is not just a uniform; it is a symbol of pride and identity for our athletes. The uniform proudly represents India's self-reliance and showcases the country's diverse heritage and design leadership. I am confident that as much as the team will represent the young and new India; we will ensure historic performances and return with the best medal count. I urge the country to stand behind our athletes and cheer for them."
The playing kit is designed by the talented Kashmiri designer Aaquib Wani who has also designed the Indian cricket team jersey. It is inspired by the country's varied art forms that serves as a visual ode to the incredible diversity and unity that defines India, ensuring that every athlete carries a piece of their home state with them onto the field.
IOA President PT Usha said she expects every member of the contingent to make the best effort to make India proud. "We have waited long for the 2022 Asian Games and are delighted that India is sending its largest contingent of 634 athletes. We believe that this squad has the potential to get India its best medal haul as well," she said.
"In the IOA, we have made every effort to place the athlete in the centre of our universe and ensure that they are well looked after," she added.
With 33 members, rowing has the largest unit after athletics going to Hangzhou to stake claim at the medal. Meanwhile, a 15-member Esports team will also be at the Asian Games as the event makes its official debut.
The Indian contingent clinched 70 medals, including 16 gold, in the last edition of the Asian Games held in 2018, its highest medal count ever.
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