Ace athletes and sportspersons may soon receive a directive from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to attend functions hosted by the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The President’s Secretariat is reportedly in the process of issuing an order to MYAS to direct the elite sportspersons for sharing space with the President during the State banquets hosted for visiting Heads of States, on Independence Day and Republic Day, national daily Times of India has reported.
The President’s secretariat has reportedly recommended 20 names of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards recipients who subject to their availability may be advised to attend the President’s State events.
Team India skipper Virat Kohli along with archer Deepika Kumari, athletes Neeraj Chopra and Hima Das, badminton aces Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu, billiards and snooker icon Pankaj Advani, boxer Mary Kom, women cricketer Jhulan Goswami, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, Devendra Jhajharia, para athlete Deepa Malik, shooters Heena Sidhu, Jitu Rai and Gagan Narang, table tennis ace Manika Batra, tennis star Sania Mirza, wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Mirabai Chanu find place in the list.
According to Ministry officials, the secretariat has asked to prepare the list keeping in mind “gender equality and fair representation of athletes”. The Ministry’s list to be sent to the secretariat includes the names of 12 men and eight women athletes.
The officials informed that the idea behind inviting these sportspersons to the Rashtrapati Bhavan events is to showcase India’s growing sporting prowess to the foreign dignitaries.
However, availability of athletes on the required dates will be a matter of concern. Most athletes whose names figure in the list are based outside Delhi and have a hectic international calendar.
However, the Ministry feels that not all athletes would be competing abroad at the same time and quite a few would be available to attend functions on different occasions and dates.