In a major departure from the past, the National Sports Day will not be held on August 29 this year.
In a decision taken on Tuesday, the sports ministry has decided to postpone the function to August 31.
A source in the sports ministry told HT on Wednesday that the decision is a result of the sports minister, Jitendra Singh’s, non-availability.
“As the minister is not available on August 29, the function has been postponed,” said the source, going on to add that the latest move would show the ministry in poor light.
The day is celebrated to observe the legendary Dhyan Chand’s birth anniversary, and also witnesses the national sports awards – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award and Dhyan Chand Award, which are conferred on the country’s top sports personalities by the President.
“The ministry decided to postpone the national sports awards by two days on Tuesday and we sent out the communication to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and respective departments, so that they can start preparing for the function,” said a senior official of the ministry.
Despite repeated attempts, director general, SAI, Jiji Thomson, could not be contacted for his comments.
Now, according to the revised schedule, a dress rehearsal will be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 30 at 3pm.
Meanwhile, the ongoing controversy over the Khel Ratna and whether to consider London Para-Olympics silver medallist HN Girisha for the Arjuna Award has also prevented the ministry from releasing the official list of awardees. The committee has forwarded the names of the awardees and they await the sports minister’s approval.
A top official expressed his helplessness in throwing any light on the impasse as the file was still with sports minister Jitendra Singh. “The matter is still undecided. Even I dont know, when the announcement will be made. The file is still with the minister,” the official said.
While the postponement will cause the ministry embarrassment, it has come as a breather for the officials who have been entrusted with putting the show together.