Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister pledges resignation if T20 Cricket allegations proven

Harin Fernando

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs, Harin Fernando, announced he will resign if allegations of indiscipline within the Sri Lankan cricket team, participating in the 2024 T20 World Cup, are proven true.

He emphasized the government’s investment in athletes’ welfare, noting that 60 internationally recognized athletes receive a monthly allowance of Rs. 50,000, while 850 other athletes receive Rs. 10,000 per month.

Minister Fernando made these comments on Monday (June 24) during a press briefing at the Presidential Media Centre under the theme “Collective Path to a Stable Country.”

He also mentioned that the government has introduced insurance coverage for school rugby players.

Further highlighting the government’s initiatives, he discussed the “Urumaya” freehold land deeds program. Launched in February, it marks the first initiative by a president to provide freehold land deeds, with over 50,000 people having already received them.

The program aims to distribute 2 million freehold land deeds. Due to a lack of public understanding, a mobile service will start this week to inform the public, and buses will be used to expedite the distribution process. Additionally, 12,000 freehold land deeds for the North-West Province and another 12,000 for the Matara district are nearing completion.

In the tourism sector, over 990,000 tourists have visited Sri Lanka this year. A committee’s report on granting free visas will soon be presented to the Cabinet, potentially boosting tourism further. Five global promotional campaigns have been executed to attract tourists, with specific programs for China, Japan, India, and Europe. A “must visit” initiative is also aimed at enhancing Sri Lanka’s appeal.

Thanks to these promotional efforts, Sri Lanka has entered the top ten global tourist destinations, with 33% of tourists returning, indicating a positive trend. There are plans to enhance maritime tourism by transforming Trincomalee and Arugam Bay into maritime hubs and launching domestic flight services to develop the tourism sector further.

Additionally, the new Sports Act, set for Cabinet approval, will cover all 73 sports in Sri Lanka, including cricket. The act aims to depoliticize sports by preventing local councillors from holding office in sports associations. The Ceylon Premier League Cricket Tournament is overseen by the ICC, with plans to secure funding to build an additional stadium for day-night matches.

This stadium would help Sri Lanka meet the requirements to host the 2026 Cricket World Cup.

The government has insured 400 school rugby players and initiated a new support program for them. High-performing athletes receive a Rs. 50,000 monthly stipend, while 850 athletes in the sports strength program receive Rs. 10,000 per month.

There are also plans to renovate the Sugathadasa Stadium and transfer the Khettarama Stadium to the Cricket Institute, with a funding allocation of one billion rupees for renovations.

The rescue from bankruptcy and subsequent stabilization of the country have been achieved through various initiatives under President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership. These efforts have significantly benefited the economy by enhancing cultural heritage, boosting tourism, and supporting sports.

Future elections are crucial, and wise voting could lead to the upcoming decade being celebrated as the decade of the citizen.