New guidelines for sports honours

NEW DELHI: The Union Sports Ministry plans to put in new guidelines in place for the selection of athletes for national sports awards.

Criteria for selection will be revised so that un-nominated athletes could also be considered for honours like the Arjuna awards.

Sports ministry officials have told PTI that Sports Minister Vijay Goel has already started discussions on changing the selection criteria for next year. Ministry officials claim it is a system upgradation, to ensure that deserving candidates are considered for the awards even if they have not been nominated by their respective federations. Each selection committee member would have the option to advise the panel on the worthiness of a particular athlete. 

The decision to revise the criteria comes close on the heels of controversy regarding two athletes - Rohan Bopanna and Mithali Raj - both of whom were not among the those honoured this year. Bopanna, who won the French Open mixed doubles title in June, missed out on the award since his nomination reached the ministry only after the deadline of 28 April had elapsed. Mithali Raj became the highest run-getter in women's cricket history this year, but was not considered for a Khel Ratna, since she was not nominated by either the BCCI or any other organisation.

Under the current system of evaluation for the awards, athletes are awarded points on the basis of their performances in the World Cup/World Championship, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships and Commonwealth Championships. Certain sports like motorsports, which do not figure in these championships, are thus left out. 

The ministry is yet to clarify if the system of awarding points too will be revised from next year, PTI reports.