While the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped Indian athletes in their tracks over the last few months, it hasn’t stopped their contributions from being acknowledged as India gears up for its first-of-its-kind virtual National Sports Awards ceremony on Saturday.
The National Sports Awards, this year, will be conducted online and will see the awardees joining the ceremony from various Sports Authority of India (SAI) and National Informatics Centre (NIC) bases across the country.
President Ram Nath Kovind will be presenting the awards virtually from the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. The ceremony will also be streamed live.
A total of 60 from the 65 award winners will be attending from across Bengaluru, Pune, Sonepat, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Itanagar. Due to health and other reasons issues, 14 awardees will be not be attending the National Sports Awards functions from various SAI centres.
Star Indian table tennis player Manika Batra, who will be conferred with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna for her medal-winning displays at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, is looking forward to the unique setting.
“We have to accept the fact that the pandemic has brought life to a standstill but I am no less excited about this ceremony,” the 2018 Arjuna Award winner said.
Emerging Indian boxer and Tokyo Olympic medal hopeful Lovlina Borgohain, who will be conferred with the Arjuna Award on Saturday, is closer than ever to fulfil one of her lifelong dreams.
“I’m looking forward to winning a medal at the Olympics and this will definitely fulfil my aim of getting a photo clicked with the President of India!” the two-time World Championships-bronze medallist said.
National wushu coach Kuldeep Handoo created history by becoming the first recipient of the Dronacharya Award from India’s Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Handoo had to come down to Chandigarh for the rehearsal before the big day and the coach was left impressed with the arrangements, that include implementing health and safety protocols.
“When I was at the dress rehearsal, it seemed very simple but it definitely is not easy to organise with such technical accuracy,” Kuldeep Handoo said.
“Connecting all the National Sports Award winners online from various states of the country with the President is definitely a tedious work. Hats off to the team working behind it!” the coach hailed.
Three winners of the National Sports Awards who tested positive for COVID-19 will skip the special ceremony on Saturday.
Final list of attendees for National Sports Awards virtual award ceremony
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Manika Batra, Rani Rampal, Mariyappan Thangavelu
Arjuna Award: Atanu Das, Deepak Hooda, Akashdeep Singh, Lovlina Borgohain, Manu Bhaker, Manish Kaushik, Sandesh Jhinghan, Dattu Bhokanal, Rahul Aware, Dutee Chand, Deepti Sharma, Shiva Keshavan, Madhurika Patkar, Manish Narwal, Sandeep Chaudhary, Suyash Jadhav, Chirag Shetty, Vishesh Bharguvanshi, Ajay Sawant, Sarika Kale, Divya Kakran
Dronacharya Award (Lifetime category): Dharmendra Tiwari, Purshottam Rai, Shiv Singh, Romesh Pathania, K K Hooda, Vijay Munishwar
Dronacharya Award (Regular category): Jaspal Rana, Kuldeep Handoo, Jude Felix
Dhyan Chand Award: Kuldip Singh Bhullar, Jincy Philip J. Ranjith Kumar, Trupti Murgunde, Pradeep Shrikrishna Gandhe, Satyaprakash Tiwari, Manjeet Singh, N. Usha, Manpreet Singh, Netarpal Hooda, Nandan P Bal, Late Shri Sachin Nag (Ashok Nag - Son)
Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards: Sarfraz Singh, Taka Tamut, Shri Magan Bissa (Sushma Bissa - Wife), Anita Devi, Keval Hiren Kakka, Satendra Singh
Where to watch National Sports Awards live
The coverage of the National Sports Award Ceremony will begin at 10:45 AM on Saturday, 29 August 2020. It will be broadcast live on the Doordarshan TV channel.
Live streaming of the National Sports Awards will be available on the Indian government’s video portal here.