The Tokyo Games, both the Olympic and Paralympics, saw India put up a stunning show as the Asian nation returned with its highest ever medal haul at the quadrennial events. Following the athletes’ brilliant performance on the big stage, the Indian government is expected to dish out a record number of rechristened Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards.
Olympic medallists Neeraj Chopra, Ravi Dahiya, Manpreet Singh and Paralympians Avani Lakhera, Bhavinaben Patel and Sumit Antil are in the fray for this year’s Khel Ratna award, reports suggest. The award selection committee is expected to hold deliberations next week and forward its recommendations to sports minister Anurag Thakur.
A credible show at the Tokyo Games to see National sports awardee numbers rise
The previous year saw a record 74 athletes were bestowed with the national sports awards honours, with five Khel Ratna and 27 Arjuna awardees. The number is expected to rise in both categories following a stunning campaign at the Tokyo Paralympics which saw India return with a record 19 medals.
Olympic bronze medallists, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and woman boxer Lovlina Borgohain too are in contention for the Khel Ratna. In the Paralympics, gold medal winners Pramod Bhagat and Manish Narwal could also find their names in the Khel Ratna list. Paralympics silver and bronze winners could find themselves on the Arjuna award list.
The award ceremony is expected to be virtual this year too. The prize money for the Khel Ratna award was Rs 25 lakh last year while the Arjuna awardees were given Rs 15 lakh.