Anurag Thakur replaces Kiren Rijiju as Sports Minister days before Olympics
Anurag Thakur (left) and Kiren Rijiju

New Delhi: After a Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, Anurag Thakur replaced Kiren Rijiju as the country’s sports minister with just over two weeks left for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 46-year-old former Cricket Board President was given charge of sports along with the Information and Broadcasting ministry after he took oath as a cabinet minister.

“I am honoured to serve the people of India as a Union Cabinet minister and take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Sh @narendramodi ji for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Thakur tweeted.

Thakur was the president of the BCCI between May 2016 and February 2017. Before that, he was the secretary of the Board and also headed the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).

A Member of Parliament from HP’s Hamirpur constituency, Thakur was serving as the minister of state for finance and corporate affairs under Nirmala Sitharaman before Wednesday’s cabinet reshuffle.

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His brother Arun Dhumal is currently the treasurer of the BCCI.

Thakur is among the six ministers who have been promoted to the cabinet rank.

Rijiju, Hardeep Singh Puri, Parshottam Rupala, G Kishan Reddy, Mansukh Mandaviya are the other promoted ministers.

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, Rijiju also served as the minister of state for minority affairs before being given temporary charge of Ministry of Ayush.

“Honorable Prime Minister Shri. @narendramodi heartfelt thanks. Will work dedicatedly to fulfill the thoughts and vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister to make Atmanirbhar Bharat,’ Rijiju tweeted.

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 Sports Authority of India facilities across the country.

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