The calendar pages are ready to flip over into August and along with it welcome the Asian Games 2018 which are scheduled to take place in the twin Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2. In the light of the upcoming major event in the sporting calendar, the Sports Ministry of India has decided to consider the top performers of the Games for this year’s National Sports Awards.
This decision was deliberated upon by the Ministry to ensure that no talented athlete misses out from the honour of being a part of the National Sports Awards. As has been customary practice, the Award function generally was made to coincide with hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand’s birthday on 29th August every year which is marked the National Sports Day too. However, the Ministry has decided to shift the dates this time and push it back to September 25th, calling for a significant change in traditions.
The decision taken by The Sports Ministry can be seen as having a practical twofold motive. The very fact that keeping the Awards date unchanged would mean a clash between the ongoing Asian Games dates which begin from mid-August and continues well into early September. Due to this, most of the athletes will be away participating in the quadrennial continental showpiece and missing out on the honour of being a part of the National Sports Awards.
The Sports Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar assures that this decision was taken keeping in mind the maximum participation from athletes and they have already received a positive response from the Rashtrapati Bhawan, which plays host to the Award function, regarding the change of dates to September 25.
Bhatnagar revealed to PTI and confirmed that “The Sports Ministry has decided to shift the dates as it coincides with the Asian Games. We want maximum participation from athletes, coaches and officials at the awards ceremony, so we wrote the to Rashtrapati Bhawan requesting for the change of date.”
After a brilliant stint and a 66-medal haul at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games held earlier this year, the Ministry has decided to encourage and take into account the performances of the Indian athletes at this year’s Asian Games too.
“The athletes who will receive the sports awards this year have already been selected by their entries received before April 30. But the government has the provision to name outstanding sportspersons of Asian Games to the recommendation committee,” the Sports Secretary informed.
“ 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.”, reassured Bhatnagar.
This particular piece of news will rekindle the hope of budding athletes looking to make it big at the Games this year. The awards that every individual in the sporting field vie for include the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Award which is the highest Indian sporting honour and hasn’t been handed over to more than four players in a year.
The other category is the Arjuna Award and has had a maximum of 17 recipients in a year. On the other hand, the Dronacharya Award lauds outstanding coaches, and the Dhyan Chand honour is one of lifetime achievement.