Haryana sports minister Anil Vij will be travelling to Brazil with a nine-member delegation in tow to attend the 2016 Rio Olympics and cheer their home state athletes. The trip, which he confirmed via a tweet, is estimated to cost Rs 1 crore.
Vij’s delegation includes his private secretary, two BJP MLAs, a media adviser to the chief minister, the additional chief secretary (sports), KK Khandelwal, his private secretary, and the joint director for sports, OP Sharma.
Except for Sharma, who is a former national hockey player, none in the delegation have any expertise in sports.
The news adds fuel to an already raging controversy over the International Olympic Committee (IOC) threatening to cancel the accreditation of Union sports minister Vijay Goel for the “aggressive and rude” behaviour of unaccredited members of his entourage who attempted to enter restricted areas at several Olympic venues.
It also sparked outrage in the state considering that sports nurseries are yet to pay trainee stipends that have been on hold for seven months now.
Hindustan Times had on July 22 reported of Vij’s planned Rio trip.
The next day, the BJP-led state government cancelled the trip on the grounds that the dates clashed with the assembly session starting on August 19. However, the session was moved to August 26, freeing up the dates for Vij to travel.
Of the nine, Anil Vij, Khandelwal and MLAs Randhir Singh Kapriwas and Gyanchand Gupta will fly business class, while the remaining five are travelling economy class.
The delegation will leave for Rio early on Sunday morning.
The sports department has already spent Rs 8.1 lakh on the tickets for the Olympics closing ceremony; each ticket costs Rs 90,000.
Haryana has contributed the maximum number of players to the Indian contingent at the Olympics -- 20 of 119 Olympians are from the state.