New Delhi, Aug 27 (UNI) Over the past three weeks, Olympics have captured major attention in the country and the IOA president Suresh Kalmadi was pleased to see that cricket has taken a backseat, while the Indian athletes at the Beijing Games received their long awaited recognition against a game which is played only by a small number of countries in the world.
''Till now it was all cricket which is played by just 10 countries but now we have athletes who have won medals in competitions among over 200 countries,'' Kalmadi told mediapersons here last night.
He further added that the efforts of the Indian athletes, especially Abhinav Bindra, Sushil Kumar and Vijender Kumar will draw more interest among the youth and finally the country will have more medal winners at various international sports events.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president claimed that while in cricket money is flowing from every possible quarter, other sports were being neglected by the sponsors.
However, Kalmadi believes that the performances at the Beijing Games is a stepping stone for other sports and athletes in the country and will attract more sponsors to climb the ladder of success.
''It is lesson for corporate houses and industries that a lot is there beyond cricket. From now on, I am sure our sportspersons will have sponsors to back them and will be more stable financially.
He pointed out that the Beijing Games have proved that India is ready to look beyond cricket and Olympics sports hold much more importance.
''It was the same day when India defeated Sri Lanka in cricket and our boys won the bronze medals at Olympics.
''I was pleased to see that our medals stories made the first headline while the cricket victory was the third headline,'' he noted.
The IOA also announced a cash prize of Rs 25 lakhs to Abhinav Bindra for winning the gold medal at Olympics, while bronze medalists Vijender Kumar and Sushil Kumar were awarded with Rs 10 lakhs cash.
Kalmadi further announced that players like Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar who missed out on a medal by a whisker will also receive cash prizes of Rs 5 lakh each.
The IOA president today met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and has requested him to bring those industries, which are supporting the Olympic sports, under tax exemption.
''I met the Prime Minister today and have asked him to put the industries, which are supporting the Olympic sports in the country, under tax exemption.'' UNI RAR CS RAI1029