The five political parties have pledged to develop sports in the country, though their manifestos do not spell out comprehensive strategies.
None of them have outlined plans to address critical issues within the sports sector, such as low athlete salaries, a limited budget, the attrition of national athletes, insufficient quality and international standard sports infrastructure, and a shallow talent pool.
The parties have not made commitments to encourage foreign direct investments in the sports sector, nor have they specified how they intend to generate funds to fulfill their pledges in sports.
Sports play a significant role in society, with the potential to address unemployment, combat non-communicable diseases, promote healthy lifestyles, and tackle youth-related issues.
Sports today employ more than 1,000 people, including athletes, technical and administrative staff, coaches, and referees across 15 sports federations, four sports associations, and 15 dzongkhag sports associations.
Common pledges from Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT), and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) include making sports facilities accessible to all.
DPT and DTT have committed to building four regional sports centres. DNT and DPT have pledged to promote sports in schools with improved facilities.
DPT assures the development of sports and recreational facilities through private-public partnerships.
DTT also promises to institute professional scholarships in sporting fields and promote national sporting activities through decentralised local grants.
PDP supports building sports facilities nationwide, assisting clubs in sustaining themselves, training players, and participating in various competitions.
Bhutan Tendrel Party expresses support for sports development, although no specific pledges are mentioned.
The lack of adequate and quality infrastructure, coupled with budget constraints, remains significant hurdles to developing professional athletes in the country. Budget limitations hinder many athletes from participating in international training and competitions, essential for gaining exposure and experience.
However, DPT and PDP have promised to support athletes in participating in regional and international sports championships and tournaments.
Other sports Issues
The country lacks a single sports stadium capable of hosting major regional and international sports tournaments to promote sports, and generate revenue. Regional disparities exist in terms of sports facilities, with most of them concentrated in the capital, raising questions about the quality of national athletes.
Limited sports facilities remain expensive for many, resulting in some sporting avenues remaining idle without customers.
Unlike other countries, sports in Bhutan are still considered a secondary choice by many, with a predominant focus on education. Other nations invest heavily in sports, training youth from an early age.