Not for the first time, badminton player HS Prannoy has made his displeasure quite clear over selections for India’s sports awards. On Tuesday, Prannoy lashed out against the Badminton Association of India’s decision of recommending compatriot Sameer Verma’s name for the Arjuna Award.
First things first, BAI’s decision not to forward names of certain players certainly won’t matter now as the sports ministry has allowed players to directly apply for the award instead of recommendations from federations. The deadline for that has been set as June 22.
That being said, it has now emerged that Prannoy was left out on disciplinary grounds as he, along with Srikanth Kidambi, are said to have hurt India’s chances at the Badminton Asia Team Championship in Manila, Philippines. During the tournament in February this year, the duo did not play in the semi-final as they left for Barcelona before the team event in Manila ended.
India bagged a bronze medal, after losing 3-2 to Indonesia in the semi-final, where Lakshya Sen and Subhankar Dey beat higher-ranked players, but the team paid for defeats in the other three matches, including the first singles tie.
BAI officials felt that had Srikanth and/or Prannoy played, India would have had a better chance of pulling off a win in that match.
Srikanth and Prannoy had left for Barcelona to participate in the Spain Masters, stating that they needed to go their early with an eye on Olympics qualification. However, Dey made it in time for the tournament after playing the semi-final against Indonesia where he beat Shesar Hiren Rhustavito.
A BAI source, on condition of anonymity, told Scroll.in that Prannoy’s name was indeed considered for the Arjuna Award recommendation but the governing body felt that players who put personal interest over the team should not be considered.
Prannoy did not comment when Scroll.in reached out.
“We have even received Srikanth’s application for Khel Ratna but we haven’t forwarded that as well for the same reason,” the source added.
Call for a code of conduct
However, BAI has now decided to put in place a code of conduct for players and have the support of the Sports Authority of India. SAI has asked the federation to put in place certain protocols for players on participating in domestic and international tournaments apart from their conduct in the national camps.
In a meeting held in August last year, SAI and BAI had decided that players who skip the nationals without a genuine reason may not get any financial support for international tournaments and all players in the core group will have to follow the tournament calendar finalised by the chief national coach.
However, BAI had then decided to give a longer rope to top players who had a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“But with the Olympics postponed by a year, we felt it was the right time to let the players know that they are not bigger than the system,” the source added.
It is understood that BAI’s decision to put together a code of conduct for players has also been expedited after getting flak from Badminton World Federation over some shuttlers using social media to criticise the revised 2019 BWF calendar in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The code of conduct will be finalised in the next 15 days and circulated to all the players,” the source added.