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President of India honours 65 athletes virtually, Rohit Sharma misses ceremony

The National Sports Awards were conferred to 65 athletes virtually by Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India on Saturday. For the first time in history, the National Sports Awards had to be conducted virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic that has now crossed 34 lakhs in India. There were five sporting individuals who have conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, which is the highest civilian honor for a sporting personality in India. The awardees attended the ceremony from various places across the country – Bengaluru, Pune, Sonepat, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Hyderabad, and Itanagar.

However, the likes of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma missed the ceremony as they were on IPL duties in the UAE. According to the government protocol, athletes who are present in India at the time of giving the award can only be honoured. There were two more prominent absentees. Vinesh Phogat, the wrestler honoured with the Khel Ratna, was diagnosed COVID positive while Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, honoured with the Arjuna Award was also diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Rani Rampal, the India women’s hockey skipper, attended the event from the Sports Authority of India centre in Bangalore but she was seen wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Manika Batra, the squash player and Mariyappan Thangavelu, the Paralympic gold medalist attended the event.

A total of 74 sportspersons were chosen for the national awards, including five for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, eight for Dronacharya Award in Life- Time Category, five Dronacharya Award in regular category, a whopping 27 Arjuna awardees, 15 Dhyan Chand awardees. The President of India congratulated all the award winners and also mentioned the impact of the coronavirus that has stalled sporting activities the world over.

Total list of winners

Khel Ratna award: Rohit Sharma, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Manika Batra, Rani Rampal and Vinesh Phogat.

Arjuna Award: Atanu Das, Dutee Chand, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Manish Kaushik, Lovlina Borgohain, Ishant Sharma, Divij Sharan, Manu Bhaker, Kale Sarika Sudhakar, Dattu Bhokanal, Shiva Keshavan, Divya Kakran, Madhurika Patkar, Saurabh Chaudhary, Akashdeep Singh, Aditi Ashok, Deepak Hooda, Deepika Thakur, Manish Narwal, Rahul Aware, Suyash Jadhav, Sandeep, Sandesh Jhingan, Sawant Ajay Anant, Deepti Sharma, Chirag Shetty, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi.