Haryana Sports Minister Anil Vij denies disrespecting athletes after Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat slam cut in prize money

Wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat had questioned the Haryana government for not coming through on their promise of prize money for the athletes. World No 1 wrestler Punia had reacted after a new policy said that the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games winners would take a cut. The policy revision has affected the athletes who won in both Gold Coast and Jakarta.

According to the new sports policy, “In case a sportsperson wins more than one medal during a financial year, he/she will receive full award money for the highest medal and at 50 per cent of the award money for the second and subsequent medals.”

Taking to Twitter, Punia, who won gold at the 2018 Asian Games, hit out at the state government, saying that laurels athletes bring benefit not only state but the entire country and that such demoralizing acts of the government will break their morale.

"Youths from Haryana have given splendid medals to the state. Even if its a small state, athletes from the state have made India proud all over the world. Please do not demoralise them by cutting down on the prize money. I urge the Haryana government to rethink this decision," said Punia in the tweet.

Phogat tweeted, "Dear sir, it seems like you had decided five years ago when you came to power that neither you will leave any athlete in Haryana, nor their respect. Be it a popular athlete or not, no athlete is happy with your policies". She also tagged Vij and Haryana CM's office in the tweet.

In a second tweet, she said she had never such disrespect of athletes, "Every time you try to bother the athletes. I have never seen such a disrespectful government in Haryana. I want to ask how many athletes have been given the prize money or have been given job."

Vij responded to the strong words by the two medallists.

"On the basis of sports policy, prize money has been distributed. If there is some discrepancy, they can speak to the department. We have never disrespected our sportspersons," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Last week, the Haryana government had cancelled the cash awards function for 3000 state players and had informed them that the money will be deposited in their bank accounts by 25 June.

“We got Rs 2.25 crore instead of Rs 3 crore in our bank account. Firstly, the state government cancelled the awards function for the medallists and now this step has been implemented. I spoke to other wrestlers and they told me that this step has been taken as per new sports policy, where we will be given half the prize money of CWG and today’s deduction was from the CWG prize money. As a player, I can only say that, yeh sarkar players ke sath sautela vyavahar kar rahi hai, (As a player, I can say that this government are giving the players a step-motherly treatment). Haryana is known for winning the highest number of medals for the country and the state government is treating the athletes like a burden on them,” Punia was quoted by Indian Express.

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Updated Date: Jun 26, 2019 19:19:22 IST