Coming 4th at Olympics Not Enough: Pankaj Advani on Khel Ratna Row

Khel Ratna awardee Pankaj Advani is critical of the Govt’s move to give 27 Arjuna Awards and a 5 Khel Ratnas in 2020

2 min read

A staggering 27 Arjuna Awards and a first-ever 5 Khel Ratnas were awarded this year by India’s Sports Ministry – an unprecedented move, especially since 2019 wasn’t the year of any major competitions like the Olympics or the Asian and Commonwealth Games.

The Ministry’s move was severely criticised by many members of the sports fraternity and also by many former recipients of India’s top sports honours. Among them is Pankaj Advani, who shared his view on the matter with The Quint.

"I was pretty surprised to be honest. I’ve always considered the ministry to be fair… in giving out the awards to deserving sports persons. But once they started giving three Khel Ratnas, and now 5 in a year, that’s when you feel like they’re moving towards a stage where they’re just trying to please everyone,” he said.

Advani also said there was a need for the government to make firm guidelines on the what qualifies an athlete for the highest sports honour in the country.

“We need to be very prudent and wise and define what sporting excellence is. Somebody finishing fourth or fifth in the Olympics, that’s not enough, sorry. As close as you are to winning your medal, it’s not enough to qualify you for an award. Similarly, if you are a part of a non-Olympic sport, you can’t match them with the Olympic sports and say just because they have won a bronze compared to a world championship gold, you are going to give them a weightage,” said the holder of a record 23 world titles.

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