New Delhi: Outgoing sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said the journey to make India a great sporting nation will continue after Anurag Thakur replaced him in the position with just a fortnight left for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Rijiju, who took charge of the sports ministry in May 2019, will hand over the responsibilities to Thakur, who is also the Information and Broadcasting minister in the reshuffled cabinet.
Thakur is the first cabinet minister since Mani Shankar Iyer (2006-2008) to get the sports ministry’s responsibility.
Kiren Rijiju has also been promoted to the rank of a cabinet minister and has taken charge of the ministry of law and justice.
“We tried everything to make India a great sporting nation. The journey will continue, it is a change of responsibilities,” he told reporters at a farewell function organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) here on Thursday.
“I am shifting to the Law and Justice Ministry but the efforts which are going on in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will continue and my best wishes to the team,” he added.
“The time which I had in the sports and youth affairs ministry has been extremely favourable as well as full of events and activities.From young to senior athletes I have met most of them and interacted with them. The journey of making India a great sporting nation will continue and will be fulfilled.
Rijiju hailed his team at the sports ministry, saying it did everything in its capacity to fulfil the aspirations of the countrymen and the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I just met the sports ministry officials. Secretary Youth Affairs, Secretary Sports, Director General SAI and the entire team. We had a great team, we had a wonderful journey. We did everything to fulfil the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister and the aspirations of the people.”
Rijiju was appointed as the minister of state for sports in May 2019, replacing Olympic silver-medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Along with the Independent charge of the Sports and Youth Affairs, Kiren Rijiju also served as the minister of state for minority affairs before being given temporary charge of ministry of Ayush.
More than 120 athletes have qualified for the Olympic Games which will open on July 23 amid strict health safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Rijiju’s tenure, the sports ministry had decided against sending its delegation for the mega-event unlike past editions, saying that it would ensure wider presence of the athletes’ support staff.
Highlights of Rijiju’s stint included an increase in prize money for national sports awards winners, prompt assistance for current and former athletes facing financial hardships and upgrade of infrastructure at various SAI facilities across the country.