NEW DELHI: Wrestler Vinesh Phogat and her personal Om Prakash Dahiya have tested positive for covid-19 and will not attend the ‘virtual’ national sports day awards ceremony on Saturday. Vinesh and Dahiya were set to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Dronacharya award, respectively, at Sonipat SAI centre. Men’s badminton doubles specialist, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, had earlier tested positive for the coronavirus. He was to be conferred with the Arjuna award. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) had, on Thursday, informed about the three award winners returning positive for the virus, but had refrained from disclosing their identities as they were not part of the SAI-organised national camps.

While Satwiksairaj informed about him testing positive on Thursday itself, the news of Vinesh and Dahiya getting infected with the virus broke late on Friday evening. Vinesh took to twitter to inform about her health status. “I have tested positive for covid-19 in a test taken yesterday. I am currently showing no symptoms but have isolated myself,” she tweeted. Dahiya, too, informed that he’s asymptomatic. The duo have been observing home quarantine.

Vinesh and Dahiya had taken the covid-19 test on Thursday and even participated in the awards rehearsal at the SAI centre on Wednesday. It’s been learnt that the two other award winners, kabaddi player Deepak Hooda (Arjuna) and Manpreet Singh (Dhyanchand), who were present during the rehearsal when Vinesh and Dahiya were around, have been told by the authorities in SAI to skip the awards function for their own safety. The reason could be they were in contact with Vinesh and Dahiya.

Meanwhile, Haryana-based mountaineer Narendra Singh, who had been alleged to have faked his credentials of summiting Mount Everest, will not be presented with the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2020 on Saturday. After it was alleged by some Indian mountaineers that Singh had morphed pictures of him successfully climbing the Everest in 2016, the sports ministry on Friday ordered a high-level probe into the matter.
His award has been put in abeyance until the investigation concludes in his matter. Singh, who even took part in the rehearsal ceremony, has been informed about the ministry’s decision that his award has been put on hold. This after Norgay’s son, Jamling Tenzing Norgay, who lives in Bhutan, wrote to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), informing the federation about Singh’s fake credentials.
The SAI informed on Friday that a total of 14 out of the selected 74 award winners will be absent from the virtual award ceremony. Apart from Vinesh, Dahiya, Satwiksairaj (tested covid positive) and Singh (award put in abeyance), the others to have been missing the ceremony include cricketers Rohit Sharma (Khel Ratna) and Ishant Sharma, golfer Aditi Ashok, tennis player Divij Sharan (all Arjuna) and football coach Sukhwinder Singh (Dhyanchand). All of them are abroad.
Other absentees will be former tennis player Naresh Kumar (Dronacharya lifetime), hockey player Deepika (Arjuna), former boxer Lakha Singh (Dhyanchand) and air adventure award winner Gajanand Yadav. On Friday evening, the news of the sad demise of athletics coach Purushotham Rai, who was selected for the Dronacharya in the lifetime category arrived. According to PTI, Rai died due to a cardiac arrest. He was 79. “He took part in the rehearsal for the awards but later suffered a heart attack and passed away,” a top AFI official told PTI.
The ministry had, on Thursday, informed that nine awardees will not be attending the ceremony. But late on Friday, it informed the number of absentees had gone up to 14. Rani Rampal, Manika Batra and Mariyappan Thangavelu will be receiving the Khel Ratna on Saturday.