The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was left red-faced during Sunday’s felicitation ceremony to award cash prize to Asian Games medallists as the parent body got multiple names wrong on the cheques and even missed out on one. Also Read - IOA Member Raises Questions Over Secretary General Rajeev Mehta For Holding Multiple Position, Asks For His Removal
Around 15 medallists including compound archers Jyothi Surekha Vennam and Abhishek Verma were given just bouquets as their names were misprinted on cheques. Also Read - IOA Chief Narinder Batra Asks For EC Approval For New Committees, Rajeev Mehta Objects
The IOA awarded Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively to the gold, silver and bronze medal winners in the team events. Also Read - Coronavirus Pandemic May Have Set Back Growth of Women's Cricket by Two Years: Mithali Raj
The individual medallists received Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 2 lakh respectively.
“I would like to apologise in advance for our mistake. The names of around 14-15 players have been printed incorrectly so we will give them a bouquet. But don’t worry, you will get your cash prizes. I didn’t want to give cheques with misspelt names,” President, IOA, Narinder Batra, said.
In another embarrassing moment, the organisers forgot to mention the name of the bronze medal-winning wrestler Divya Kakran.
It was only after Kakran’s parents raised the issue with Batra after the ceremony had ended that the president called Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, who had almost left the venue, to announce the prize for Kakran.
“They are saying her name is not on the list but we had given her name. I don’t know what is happening,” Kakran’s mother told PTI.
“There is always a first time. The players performed so well that we decided to award them with cash incentives. We will continue to give these cash awards in future be it the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or the Asian Games,” Secretary-General, IOA, Rajeev Mehta told PTI.
“The funds for these incentives will be provided by our sponsors,” he added.
Several players were missing from the ceremony including gold medallists — javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and tennis players Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat along with badminton medallists PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal.
Indian athletes returned with the highest ever 69 medals from the Jakarta and Palembang Asian Games 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze.
While awarding the players, Batra encouraged the medallist to aim for medals in the Olympics as well.
“We should now target double-digit medal in the Olympics. We are a country of a billion people, there is no dearth of support from the ministry or Sports authority of India. We have to achieve this feat, there should be no compromise” he said.