'Generally, the process should have been completed by the month of April but this year the situation is unprecedented.'
The process to pick this year's national sports awards has been delayed because of the nation-wide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic and the applications will be invited next month, a Sports Ministry official said.
The ministry generally invites the nominations for the awards in April while the ceremony to confer them is held on August 29 on the occasion of National Sports Day celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand.
But this year, the process is yet to start because of the pandemic, which has so far led to death of more than 800 people in the country and over 2 lakh globally.
The official said the delay is inevitable considering the present circumstances.
"The ministry is yet to issue the circular for National Sports Award applications. Generally, the process should have been completed by the month of April but this year the situation is unprecedented," the official said.
"But hopefully the circular will be issued in May."
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought all sporting activities to a standstill not just in the country but across the world.
"Since the last one month all the offices in the country, including government establishments and those of NSFs (National Sports Federations), have been running from home, so the delay was bound to happen," he said.
The National Sports Awards include Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyanchand which were conferred every year by the President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The recipients are selected from a wide range of nominations by a Sports Ministry-appointed committee which includes renowned sports personalities, ministry officials and journalists.