In what is good news for Paralympic sports, the National Sports Awards function, which was slated to be held on August 29, has been pushed back as the government wants to include the performances of para-athletes competing in the Tokyo Paralympics.
The Tokyo Paralympics will commence on August 24 and conclude on September 5.
The move has been welcomed by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). The para-athletes were left out in the last edition (2016) when the awards were declared and given much before the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics concluded.
The awards - the Khel Ratna, Arjuna, Dronacharya, and the Dhyan Chand awards – are given each year on August 29, also known as National Sports Day, which is also the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand.
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards could be held virtually this time as well just like last year.
The nominations concluded on July 5 after two extensions. The applicants were allowed to self-nominate online in view of the pandemic, but national federations have also sent their preferences.
The Indian contingent produced its best ever performance at the recently-concluded Tokyo Games where the athletes won seven medals, including one gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
India’s sports minister Anurag Thakur told news agencies that a selection panel for picking the award winners has been formed, but they would prefer to wait some more time before going ahead with the selection process.
In this regard, he said:
"National sports award committee has been formed for this year but Paralympics are yet to be held so we want to add winners from Paralympics also. I hope and wish they will perform really well.”
The prize money for the awards has been increased this year. The Khel Ratna award comes with a cash prize of ₹25 lakh while Arjuna and Dronacharya awards have a cash prize of ₹15 lakh each.
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