The controversy over the nomination of Virat Kohli and Saikhom Mirabai Chanu for the Khel Ratna, India's most prestigious award for sports, continues, as Times of India have now revealed that the Indian captain was nominated for the award despite scoring zero points.
Sportspersons are awarded points on the medals they have won at the Olympics, World Championships, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, but cricket is not included in this points system as cricketers are nominated through consensus among the members of the committee. Up to 20 points can also be awarded over and above the above mentioned points.
Wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, table tennis star Manika Batra, para-athlete Deepa Malik, and boxer Vikash Krishan scored more points than both nominees for this year's Khel Ratna, which has caused fresh controversy on the selection of individuals for the award.
Kohli and Chanu were selected by the committee by vote, with eight and seven members of the committee voting in favour of the two, respectively.
Bajrang Punia, who won gold at the Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games this year in the 65kg wrestling category, has moved to court and will fight for his right to be awarded the Khel Ratna.
Speaking to Times of India on Thursday, Punia said that he respected the achievements of both Kohli and Chanu, but feels that he deserves the award as much as them.
"If the members want to ignore my credentials despite it being amply visible that Vinesh and I have accumulated the maximum points, then what option do I have other than moving court? I have immense respect for Kohli and Mirabai. They are two champion sportspersons, but if I look at my credentials and that of Mirabai there is no comparison. You gave her the award give it to me as well, it's simple," said the ace freestyle wrestler.
Punia said that he spoke with sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore regarding the controversy but said that he won't wait till next year for the award.