Rohit Sharma and Vinesh Phogat were among the five chosen for the highest sporting honour of Khel Ratna while 27 athletes will get Arjuna Awards for 2020, the Sports Ministry on Friday confirmed.

The five Khel Ratna winners for this year would be cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, Rio Paralympics gold-medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu, table tennis player Manika Batra, and women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal, the ministry confirmed in a press release.

In a first, the awards will be held virtually on August 29 this year, the National Sports Day, instead of the Rashtrapati Bhavan due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sports Ministry, however, decided against bestowing the Arjuna award on former Khel Ratna winners Sakshi Malik and Mirabai Chanu, pruning the list to 27 (from the initially recommended 29) but accepted an unprecedented five recommendations for the country’s highest sporting honour this year.

Last week, the Justice Mukundakam Sharma-led selection committee had recommended 29 names for the Arjuna Award to the Sports Ministry.

The list also included Rio Olympics bronze medal-winning wrestler Sakshi and 2017 weightlifting world champion Mirabai, but the decision on bestowing the Arjuna on them was left to the discretion of Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju. This was due to the fact that they had already won the Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting honour.

The criteria for the awards takes into consideration the athletes’ performances over a four-year period. A weightage of 80% is given to athletes winning medals at various international competitions with the remaining 20 per cent left to the discretion of the panel members.

Paddler Manika Batra’s recommendation for the Khel Ratna raised doubts as she has not won anything of note since the Arjuna award on the back of her exploits at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

During this period, her world ranking has slipped to 63, but the ministry decided against rejecting her recommendation. In a statement, Manika called the honour an “added responsibility”.

“This award is an added responsibility for me to continue performing well and I am looking forward to bring more laurels to the country,” Manika said. “It’s an honour for me to be named as one of the recipients of this year’s prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.”

The recommendation of Rani Rampal also raised questions even though she helped the Indian hockey team secure a berth at the Tokyo Olympics, besides leading the team into the final of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where it lost to Japan 1-2.

The sports fraternity, though, lauded the Arjuna recommendation of Winter Olympic Games legend Shiva Keshavan, who has represented India six times in the luge event at the Games from 1998 to 2018.

Keshavan has won innumerable medals for India at the international level and has several world and Asian records to his name.

With the sports ministry pressing for recognition to indigenous sport, the Arjuna Award list also included an athlete from kho-kho – Sudhakar Sarika Kale.

Here’s a look at all the winners this year:

Winners of Khel Ratna Award

Player Sport
Rohit Sharma Cricket
Mariyappan Thangavelu Para Athletics
Manika Batra Table Tennis
Vinesh Phogat Wrestling
Rani Rampal Hockey

Winners of Arjuna Award

Player Sport
Atanu Das Archery
Dutee Chand Athletics
Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy Badminton
Chirag Chandrasekhar Shetty Badminton
Vishesh Bhriguvanshi Basketball
Manish Kaushik Boxing
Lovlina Borgohain Boxing
Ishant Sharma Cricket
Deepti Sharma Cricket
Sawant Ajay Anant Equestrian
Sandesh Jhingan Football
Aditi Ashok Golf
Akashdeep Singh Hockey
Deepika Hockey
Deepak Kabaddi
Kale Sarika Sudhakar Kho Kho
Dattu Baban Bhokanal Rowing
Manu Bhaker Shooting
Saurabh Chaudhary Shooting
Madhurika Suhas Patkar Table Tennis
Divij Sharan Tennis
Shiva Keshavan Winter Sports
Divya Kakran Wrestling
Rahul Aware Wrestling
Suyash Narayan Jadhav Para Swimming
Sandeep Para Athletics
Manish Narwal    Para Shooting

Winners of Dronacharya Award (Lifetime)

Coach Sport
Dharmendra Tiwary Archery
Purushotham Rai Athletics
Shiv Singh Boxing
Romesh Pathania Hockey
Krishan Kumar Hooda Kabaddi
Vijay Bhalchandra Munishwar Para Powerlifting
Naresh Kumar Tennis
Om Parkash Dahiya Wrestling

Winners of Dronacharya Award (Regular)

Coach Sport
Jude Felix Sebastian Hockey
Yogesh Malviya Mallakhamb
Jaspal Rana Shooting
Kuldeep Kumar Handoo Wushu
Gaurav Khanna Para Badminton

Winners of Dhyan Chand Award

Player Sport
Kuldip Singh Bhullar Athletics
Jincy Philips Athletics
Pradeep Shrikrishna Gandhe Badminton
Trupti Murgunde Badminton
N Usha Boxing
Lakha Singh Boxing
Sukhvinder Singh Sandhu Football
Ajit Singh Hockey
Manpreet Singh Kabaddi
J Ranjith Kumar Para Athletics
Satyaprakash Tiwari Para Badminton
Manjeet Singh         Rowing
Sachin Nag Swimming
Nandan P Bal Tennis
Netarpal Hooda Wrestling

(With inputs from PTI)