Considering the difficulties athletes are finding in submitting applications for this year’s national awards, the Sports Ministry has tweaked the nomination rules and also extended the deadline which originally was to end on June 3 (Wednesday). Also Read - 'It's in the Community,' Assam CM Himanta Sarma Alerts Guwahati Over COVID-19 Spread

The Ministry has admitted that athletes are facing issues in getting recommendation of the prescribed authorities/persons in wake of the nationwide lockdown enforced to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Also Read - Taj Mahal to Remain Shut Due to COVID-19 in Agra Even as Monuments Across India Reopen Today

As per a sports ministry circular, “…it has been decided to do away with the condition of submitting only with the recommendations of the authorities/persons prescribed in the awards scheme.” Also Read - Coronavirus in Hyderabad Update: Fearing Corona Infection, 34-Year-Old Commits Suicide by Jumping Into Hussain Sagar Lake

“…the part of the application form requiring the recommendation of the prescribed authorities/persons may be left blank,” it added.

As per the rules, nominations for national awards should be made along with recommendation of the national federation, sports board, and former awardees.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju explained the changes are necessary to ensure fairness to each athlete due to the ongoing situation.

“The country is faced with an unusual situation and the need of the hour is to tweak the nomination rules of the National Sports Awards to ensure that athletes are not disadvantaged in any way,” Rijiju said in a statement on Wedensday.

“The nationwide lockdown has made it very difficult for most of them to reach out and seek recommendations for nomination from competent authorities/persons,” he added.

This year the applications can be submitted via e-mail only.

The awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, are conferred annually on August 29, the birth anniversary of legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand.