New Delhi, Dec 8 (PTI) Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said that the government will start 1000 Khelo India centres in the country to provide employment to retired sportspersons.

"We are also starting 1000 Khelo India small centres across the country that will help retired sportspersons get employment or some role in shaping the sports culture of the country," Rijiju said during the 10th Global Sports Summit, TURF 2020, organised by FICCI.

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"When a sportsperson suffers, it discourages generations. The government is also ensuring that the prize money, financial support from the government reaches the athletes and the designated beneficiaries uninterrupted."

The minister emphasised on the importance of making "citizens pro-sports and pro-fitness".

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"We cannot talk about a prosperous India with citizens being unfit. We cannot talk about a sporting culture without first creating success in the sporting arena," he said.

Rijiju urged the corporate houses to come together to help create a sports loving society.

"There is no lack in terms of government support, but we are not a sporting country. The government's efforts alone are never enough. It is the people's efforts, people's participation that will define the success of sports," he said.

"Even if two per cent of India's population watches one sport, whether in stadiums or on the television, it will make the game popular and will bring in the money for its development.

"We must ensure that sport becomes a big industry in India. It can be a huge contributor to the country's economy."

The sports minister said that the Khelo India and the Fit India movements are going on strongly despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Mechanisms using digital technologies were created in aiding athletes acquire knowledge and continue with their training.

"I have set a target of putting India in the top-10 medal grossing nations in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics. To this effort, we have initiated various policy changes."

The event was also attended by Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu, Madhya Pradesh sports minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carrol and FICCI president Dr Sangita Reddy among others.

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