Vinesh Phogat tests Covid-19 positive, to miss virtual awards ceremony
World championships bronze medallist Vinesh Phogat, who is one of the five Khel Ratna awardees for 2020, has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not be able to participate in the National Sports Awards function on August 29 (Saturday). Vinesh said her test results came today and there are no symptoms. “I have no symptoms as of now, but my test results are positive,” confirmed Vinesh.
She was scheduled to be present in the SAI-designated centre at Sonepat to receive the Khel Ratna virtually from President Ram Nath Kovind. “It is disappointing but not in my hands -- whatever God’s wish. I will go through another test after some days,” said Vinesh.
Vinesh had been training at her home in Kharkhoda, Sonepat, and did not want to take the risk of travelling to Lucknow to take part in the national camp, which had to be postponed. She took the test in Sonepat on Friday before the dress rehearsal.
The three Khel Ratna awardees who will receive their awards are women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal and para athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu—both will attend the ceremony from two different locations in Bengaluru. Commonwealth Games champion paddler Manika Batra will join in from Pune. Rohit Sharma will also miss the ceremony as he is in the United Arab Emirates for the Indian Premier League.
A Sports Authority of India (SAI) statement said altogether 14 of the 74 award winners will not be able to attend the function for different reasons.
Four of them, including Vinesh and shuttler Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, have tested positive, while the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Divij Sharan, and Aditi Ashok are outside the country for competitions. “Those missing out will get their awards later from Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju,” said a SAI official.
The award winners will be connected to President Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan from nine different SAI-designated locations.
The nine centres are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Pune, Sonepat, Hyderabad and Bhopal. The award winners have gone through Covid-19 tests. The awards and certificates have been sent to the respective locations chosen for the ceremony and a rehearsal was done. During the virtual ceremony, the athletes will wear the ceremonial blazers and the trophy will be kept beside them. The awardees will stand and the citation will be read. The President will show the scroll of honour on the screen. The awardees will then bow down and then hold the trophy for the photo.
“We have done the rehearsal and it feels a bit strange the way we will receive the award online,” said Dutee Chand, who travelled from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata on August 26 in her car to be part of the virtual ceremony. “I did not want to take any chance so I travelled by road. Normally it takes 5-6 hours but there was so much traffic due to the rain and everyone is travelling by road these days,” she said. Dutee was already carrying her Covid-19 negative certificate from Bhubaneswar.
“My saree and blazer have arrived and we will be only six people and one cameraman in a big hall. Social distancing will be maintained. We have been told everything.” Asked whether the awards have reached the Kolkata centre, Dutee said she is not sure about it. “The authorities said they are not sure when the trophies will arrive or maybe it will be sent to us later.
“One would have liked to take it from the hands of the President like our contemporaries but that’s the way things are in the current situation,” she said.
Para-coach Khanna’s test negative
Para badminton coach Gaurav Khanna said his COVID results were negative. Earlier it was reported that his results have come positive.
“There was some error in the interpretation of the report and I am declared Covid negative. I will be attending the ceremony tomorrow, “ said Khanna.