CHENNAI: In what can be described as a landmark move for Indian athletes and coaches, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has extended the deadline for receiving nominations for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and Dronacharya awards. It has been done to accommodate those who took part in the Commonwealth Games (April 4-15) and Asian Games (August 18-September 2) this year, who would otherwise have been left out had the ministry stuck to this year’s original deadline of April 27.
In a circular sent to the respective national sports federations (NSFs), the sports ministry has extended the date till September 12 to file nominations. In addition to the nominations received in February, one additional name for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and three each for Arjuna and Dronacharya awards can be sent by each federation. The circular also said that the achievements of sportspersons — who were not part of the CWG or Asian Games — from January 1 to September 2 can also be included and this will be followed hereon on years when the CWG and Asian Games take place.
“This is done to accommodate athletes who have competed at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games,” Sports Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar said. “We have given them 10 days for submission of additional names. To be fair with the athletes whose names were already been recommended, we will also take into consideration their performance until the end of the Asian Games. If they have not participated at the Games, other performances until this date will be included.”
The usual last date for receiving nominations for these awards is April 30 and the awards are given out on August 29. However, this year the last date for nominations was April 27 because 28 and 29 were Saturday and Sunday and 30 was a gazetted holiday. The athletes and coaches are usually nominated based on their performances in the last four years and their achievements till December 31 are considered. Normally, not more than 15 awards are given in a calendar year and at least one award goes to para-athletes.
But the latest decision has been taken to include those who won laurels for the country in the quadrennial events. With more nominations set to come in from the NSFs, the number of awards might increase. However, the ministry said it will not take a call on numbers. “We will not decide on the numbers. The awards committee will take a decision. If they want to increase the number of recipients, they can. All up to them. The awards are set to be given around last week of this month (tentatively September 25),” said Bhatnagar.