‘Neeraj’s gold hugely important for India’

I genuinely think that one day the country will host the Olympics, says Sebastian Coe

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said on Wednesday that India must grab the opportunity provided by Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics and broaden athletics’ footprints in the country by holding more international events.

Terming India’s first Olympic gold in athletics as a “hugely important moment”, Coe advised the country to use it in raising the profile of the sport.

Strong element

“Chopra is a very strong element (in India’s athletics profile). A one-off performance from an athlete, how important it is, is not that powerful if you don’t have a strong federation behind it. And you have that now,” Coe said during a virtual interaction with select Asian media.

“(It is) the opportunity to use that performance to broaden the footprints for athletics,” he added.

“Regarding the staging of more athletics events, India is forthcoming in wanting to do that. I don’t know the current thinking of the Indian government but I genuinely think that one day India will host the Olympics.”

Coe, a double Olympic gold medallist in 1500m (1980 and 1984), added that the impact of Neeraj’s gold will go beyond India and reach many countries of the world.

“To have done the way he did at the biggest global stage, it will have impact not only in India and Asia but also broadly around the world.

“I know only too well that there are Indian communities in all our big urban populations around the world. So that went far and wide and help in engaging communities in USA, Great Britain and large parts of Europe and Africa wanting to be part of our sport too.

“The transmission mechanism, as they would say in economics, was a very powerful one.”