By Chetan Sharma
New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) A big fat list of more than 60 athletes and coaches will be conferred by President Ram Nath Kovind with the prestigious national sports awards on Saturday.
Every year the gala ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan attracts a lot of eyeballs due to its tradition; not to forget getting so many superstars under one roof.
However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has called for extensive measures as the event will take place virtually.
The shift from the traditional norm due to the unprecedented crisis has taken the glamour away from the ceremony. At least that’s what some of the 2020 award recipients feel as they went through the dress rehearsal ceremony a day prior to the national awards.
“Yeah, we will miss it. Getting award personally is something different. You can take your family along, click some photos at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Virtual is not such fun,” said one athlete, who will receive the Arjuna Award.
Another awardee said the pandemic has ‘killed’ the excitement. “Personally, I am not liking it. I will get the award but that front page photos with the President, I will miss it,” joked one athlete.
Meanwhile, Vinesh Phogat, who will receive the prestigious Khel Ratna, told IANS that she will receive the award at the NIC Centre in Delhi. “I will go there and attend the ceremony virtually. I am really excited about it,” she said.
Arjuna awardee Divya Kakran said: “I know it will be held virtually and not in Rashtrapati Bhawan. But that is for everybody’s safety.”
“The ceremony will start at 11 am in the morning and will go till 12. So we have to reach in advance and get familiar will all the protocols,” Divya added.
Boxer Manish Kaushi will connect from Pune. “My rehab is on and I will attend the ceremony from here only. This award will motivate me to do well in future events,” he said.
The sports ministry had earlier announced Rani Rampal, Vinesh Phogat, Manika Batra, Rohit Sharma and Mariyappan Thangavelu as five Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardees and 27 Arjuna award winners, the highest ever in the history of the national sports awards.