Khel Ratna Rohit Sharma and Arjuna Award winner Ishant Sharma, who are both in the United Arab Emirates for the Indian Premier League, will miss the National Sports Awards ceremony on August 29. Despite the ceremony being held virtually those who are outside the country will not be able to participate. They will receive their trophies later.
The award winners will be connected to President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan from nine different Sports Authority of India-designated locations. The other four Khel Ratna winners – an unprecedented five have been chosen for the nation’s highest sporting honour this year —will join in from various centres. Wrestler Vinesh Phogat will be present in Sonepat, women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal and para athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu will attend the ceremony from Bengaluru and Commonwealth Games champion paddler Manika Batra will join in from Pune.
“No provision has been made for those who are outside India. They will get their awards later,” said a SAI official.
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SAI has made an elaborate arrangement in a short time to send trophies, certificates and blazers to the respective centres. “As for the other award winners, their awards and certificates have been sent to the respective locations chosen for the ceremony. The athletes have also got their blazers. On the day of the ceremony, they will wear the blazer and the trophy will be kept beside them. The awardee will stand and the citation will be read. The President will show the scroll of honour on the screen. The awardee will then bow down and then hold the trophy for the photo,” the official added.
The nine SAI designated centres are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Bengaluru Pune, Sonepat, Hyderabad, Bhopal. The award winners, who have to travel from their home cities to join the virtual function, have also gone through COVID test and three of them have come positive.
“Three award winners after having tested positive will not attend the function,” SAI said in a statement. “In total nine award winners will not attend the ceremony due to several reasons like being quarantined, tested positive, ill health or not in the country etc.”
There are 74 awards in seven categories, which includes 27 Arjuna Awards. “All health and safety protocols are being followed strictly at the centres where the athletes will be present. All centers have been thoroughly sanitized and arrangements have been made to ensure social distancing during the awards function,” SAI said.