New Delhi: The Sports Ministry is open to the idea of considering outstanding performers of next month's Asian Games for this year's National Sports Awards, which will be held on 25 September instead of the conventional 29 August to ensure that athletes don't miss out due to their participation in the continental showpiece.
Every year, the National Sports Awards ceremony is held on 29 August at the Rashtrapati Bhawan to commemorate the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand as the National Sports Day.
But in a departure from tradition, the awards ceremony will be held on 25 September to avoid a clash of dates with the Asian Games to be held in the Indonesian twin cities of Jakarta and Palembang from 18 August to 2 September.
Sports Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar said the decision was taken to ensure maximum participation from sportspersons and the Sports Ministry has already received a green signal from the Rashtrapati Bhawan on the change of dates.
"The Sports Ministry has decided to shift the date as it coincides with the Asian Games. We want maximum participation from athletes, coaches and officials at the awards ceremony so we wrote to Rashtrapati Bhawan, requesting for the change of date," Bhatnagar told PTI.
The official also confirmed that performances at the Asian Games will be considered for the sports awards.
"The athletes who will receive the sports awards this year have already been selected on the basis of their entries received before 30 April. But the government has provision to name outstanding sportspersons of Asian Games to the recommendation committee," Bhatnagar said.
"The recommendation committee will have a meeting after the Asian Games and it will be up to them to decide. If they decide to include some more deserving names, they can be included along with the selected ones."
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is the highest sporting honour for an Indian athlete and has not been given to more than four athletes in a single year.
The Arjuna Awards are next in the pecking order and have been given to a maximum of 17 athletes in a single year so far.
The Dronacharya Award is handed out to outstanding coaches, while the Dhyan Chand honour is a lifetime achievement honour.
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Updated Date: Jul 25, 2018 13:18:03 IST