Sports minister Ajay Maken said on Monday that he has requested the home ministry for the inclusion of sports as a special category for awarding Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award.
"Unfortunately, sports is not a separate category for the selection of awards and thus no sportsperson has yet received a Bharat Ratna. I have written to the home minister (P Chidambaram) in this regard," said Maken.
The sports ministry does not select candidates for Bharat Ratna, he said.
"The prime minister selects the awards and the president approves them. The sports ministry is intervening only to help the sportspersons," said Maken.
Maken said he took the decision after he became the sports minister and it should not be linked to the growing demand for conferring Bharat Ratna on cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
"I took this decision after I became sports minister. This should not be linked to anything else. I would be pleased if any sportsperson gets a Bharat Ratna. If Sachin gets it, I will be happy that a sportsperson got a Bharat Ratna. The sports ministry's intervention is not name specific, it is only to help include sports as a category," he said.