Three winners of the National Sports Awards will skip the special ceremony on Saturday after having tested positive for COVID-19, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said on Thursday.
This includes badminton player Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who was to be conferred the Arjuna Award along with his doubles partner Chirag Shetty for a phenomenal 2019 that saw them become the first Indian pair to win a Super Series title.
“My friends and family all tested negative, so I was surprised,” Rankireddy told the Indian Express. “I didn’t know where I could’ve contracted it. There are no symptoms, but I’ll take all precautions.
“It has dented my Arjuna celebration. But we must just be thankful for having doctors and support,” he added.
SAI, however, did not release the names of those who tested positive for COVID-19.
The others missing the event due to non-availability include Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma. He is the United Arab Emirates for his Indian Premier League commitments for Mumbai Indians. IPL will be played over September-November.
Virtual ceremony and safety protocols
In what will be a first, this year’s edition of the National Sports Awards will be conferred through a virtual ceremony for the first time with the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind presiding over the proceedings from the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
SAI stated that 65 of the 74 recipients will attend a special virtual ceremony from an SAI or a National Informatics Centre (NIC) facility convenient to them.
“All health and safety protocols, in keeping with the guidelines of the health ministry, are being followed at all the venues where dignitaries and awardees will be present,” the SAI said.
The awardees will also have to undergo a COVID-19 test before reporting to their respective venues.
“All centres have been thoroughly sanitized and arrangements have been made to ensure social distancing during the awards function.”
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award winners for the year include table tennis player Manika Batra, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal and para high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu, apart from Rohit Sharma.
National Sports Awards 2020 winners: The complete list
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna: Rohit Sharma (Cricket), Shri Mariyappan T (Para Athletics), Manika Batra (Table Tennis), Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling), Rani Rampal (Hockey)
Dronacharya award: Jude Felix (Hockey), Yogesh Malviya (Mallakhamb), Jaspal Rana (Shooting), KK Handoo (Wushu), Gaurav Khanna (Para Badminton)
Dronacharya award (Life-time): Dharmendra Tiwary (Archery), Purushotham Rai (Athletics), Shiv Singh (Boxing), Romesh Pathania (Hockey), KK Hooda (Kabaddi), VB Munishwar (Para Powerlifting), Naresh Kumar (Tennis), OP Dahiya (Wrestling).
Arjuna award: Atanu Das (Archery), Dutee Chand (Athletics), Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Badminton), Chirag Shetty (Badminton), Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Basketball), Manish Kaushik (Boxing), Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Ishant Sharma (Cricket), Deepti Sharma (Cricket), Ajay Sawant (Equestrian), Sandesh Jhingan (Football), Aditi Ashok (Golf), Akashdeep Singh (Hockey), Deepika Thakur (Hockey), Deepak Hooda (Kabaddi), Sudhakar Kale (Kho-Kho), Dattu Bhokanal (Rowing), Manu Bhaker (Shooting), Saurabh Chaudhary (Shooting), Madhurika Patkar (Table Tennis), Divij Sharan (Tennis), Shiva Keshavan (Winter Sports), Divya Kakran (Wrestling), Rahul Aware (Wrestling), Suyash Jadhav (Para Swimming), Sandeep Chaudhary (Para Athletics), Manish Narwal (Para Shooting).
Dhyan Chand award: Kuldip Singh Bhullar (Athletics), Jincy Philips (Athletics), Pradeep Gandhe (Badminton), Trupti Murgunde (Badminton), N Usha (Boxing), Lakha Singh (Boxing), Sukhvinder Singh Sandhu (Football), Ajit Singh (Hockey), Manpreet Singh (Kabaddi), J Ranjith Kumar (Para Athletics), Satyaprakash Tiwari (Para Badminton), Manjeet Singh (Rowing), Sachin Nag (Swimming), Nandan Bal (Tennis), Netarpal Hooda (Wrestling).
Where to watch the National Sports Awards live in India?
The National Sports Awards will be conducted as a virtual ceremony for the first time. It will begin at 11:00 AM IST and can be watched live on Doordarshan, a state-run free-to-air TV channel in India.