The government has decided to widen its medical insurance cover for sportspersons by increasing the number of beneficiary athletes and including contractual coaches and support staff from this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Thursday said that with this decision, the coverage would increase to more than 13,000 athletes, coaches and support staff.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said the well-being of athletes, coaches and support staff are his ministry's priority and the decision is in line with that objective.
"We want to ensure that all our athletes and contractual staff have health cover during these difficult times and even after," he said.
"They are our national assets."
All national campers, probable national campers, Khelo India athletes and junior campers training at SAI Centres of Excellence across the country will be provided an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh each.
Earlier the coverage was limited to the duration of national camps but now it has been extended to throughout the year as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the country.
"This is new because this is for all contractual coaches and staff who were not covered before," an official source told PTI.
"The ambit of the insurance scheme has now been widened keeping in mind safety and security of athletes and coaches as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in the country.
"Earlier an athlete or a coach was covered only during a national camp or national and international event but this move will now ensure coverage for the entire year, which means on and off the field," the official added.
The health insurance also includes Rs 25 lakh accident or death coverage.
"Through this initiative, we are ensuring that all national-level athletes have insurance cover not just during the national camps but throughout the year," Rijiju said.
"We have significantly raised the insurance cover for Khelo India scholars and junior athletes up to Rs 5 lakh per athlete each year," he added.
This policy will come into effect irrespective of the dates of a national camp and even if camps have not been in operation this year.
"This will ensure continuity in the insurance and will provide much needed support to national-level athletes, coaches and support staff associated with National camps."
SAI has asked the National Sporting Federations (NSFs) to identify athletes and support staff for inclusion in the insurance scheme.
Data of those covered under this insurance scheme will be stored in the National Sports Repository System to "create a transparent, easy to access process which can be monitored regularly."