Sports Minister pledges to resign if allegations against SL team are proven

Monday, 24 June 2024 - 21:49

Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs Harin Fernando, stated that he will resign from his ministerial position if allegations of indiscipline within the Sri Lankan cricket team, currently participating in the 2024 T20 World Cup, are proven.

He highlighted the government’s significant investment in athletes’ welfare, noting that 60 athletes who have achieved international recognition receive a monthly allowance of Rs.50, 000, while an additional 850 athletes receive an allowance of Rs.10, 000 per month.

The Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs expressed these views while joining the press briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre today (24) under the theme “Collective Path to a stable country”.

Minister Harin Fernando also noted that the government has implemented measures to provide insurance coverage for school rugby players.

The minister who further commented said:

In the 75-year history of independent Sri Lanka, the “Urumaya” freehold land deeds program marks the first initiative by a president to provide freehold land deeds to the public. The program, launched in February, has already issued freehold land deeds to over 50,000 people. It aims to distribute 02 million freehold land deeds through the “Urumaya” program.

However, there seems to be a lack of public understanding about the program, causing delays in the submission of offer papers to the Divisional Secretariat for conversion into freehold deeds. To address this, a mobile service will start this week to inform the public, and buses will be used to expedite the distribution process by raising awareness at the divisional secretariat level. Additionally, activities to provide 12,000 freehold land deeds for the North-West Province and another 12,000 for the Matara district are nearing completion.

When we talk about the tourism sector, over 990,000 tourists have visited the country this year. The committee’s report on the process of granting free visas will soon be presented to the Cabinet. Following this, the implementation of free visa issuance is anticipated, which could significantly boost tourism industry growth. Currently, five global promotional campaigns have been executed to attract tourists, with specific programs planned for China, Japan, India, and Europe. Additionally, there’s a “must visit” initiative aimed at enhancing Sri Lanka’s appeal among tourists.

As a result of promotional campaigns carried out by the Ministry of Tourism’s, Sri Lanka has successfully entered the top ten lists of global tourist destinations. A notable 33% of tourists revisit Sri Lanka, indicating a positive trend for the tourism industry. Efforts are underway to enhance maritime tourism, particularly focusing on transforming Trincomalee and Arugam Bay into hubs for maritime activities.

Additionally, plans are in motion to launch domestic flight services aimed at further developing the tourism sector.

Furthermore, the new Sports Act is set to be presented for Cabinet approval. Sri Lanka boasts 73 different sports, and the new legislation will encompass all of them, including cricket. Some groups are employing various advertisements to address players’ mental conditions in cricket. Allegations of misconduct have surfaced against Sri Lankan players during this year’s T20 World Cup, and I am prepared to resign from my ministerial post if these accusations are substantiated.

Efforts have been on-going to depoliticize sports, a goal further reinforced by the new Sports Act, which bars even local councillors from holding office in sports associations. The Ceylon Premier League Cricket Tournament is overseen by the International Cricket Council (ICC), and we do not interfere in its affairs. There are plans to secure funding from the ICC to construct an additional stadium capable of hosting day-night matches. For a country to host a tournament like the World Cup, it requires at least five international-standard stadiums capable of day-night matches. By building this additional stadium, Sri Lanka aims to meet this requirement and potentially host the 2026 Cricket World Cup alone.

Similarly, 400 school rugby players have been insured, and a new program has been initiated to support these children. The government has also introduced a nutritional allowance of Rs.10, 000 per month for 850 athletes selected through the sports strength program. Furthermore, the government has allocated monthly stipends of Rs.50, 000 to sixty high-performing athletes.

Attention has also been directed towards renovating the Sugathadasa Stadium. To facilitate this, the Khettarama Stadium is expected to be transferred to the Cricket Institute, along with a funding allocation of one billion rupees for the renovation works. Additionally, there are plans to enact legislation in the future to bring sports complexes across the island under the management of Sugathadasa. Moreover, the Sports Ministry is organizing a sports festival scheduled for next August.

The rescue of the country from bankruptcy and its subsequent progress to a stable position has been achieved through various initiatives. President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership has played a pivotal role in this transformation. Economic stability has significantly benefited from initiatives aimed at enhancing cultural heritage, boosting tourism, and supporting sports. As a result, future elections are inevitable. It is crucial to note that if citizens exercise their voting rights wisely, the upcoming decade can be hailed as the decade of the citizen.

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