New Delhi:Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh is unlikely to collect his Khel Ratna award in person as the boxer would leave for Italy, to participate in the World Championships, a couple of days before the high-profile function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on August 29.
The troika of Vijender, world champion woman boxer M C Mary Kom and Olympic bronze medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar were picked for the country's highest sporting honour last month.
Apart from Vijender, Dronacharya awardee boxing coach Jaidev Bisht will also give the ceremony a miss as he too would be on his way to Italy with the Indian team. "I want to attend the ceremony and it would be very disappointing if I am not able to," said Vijender.
The nine-member Indian boxing contingent will leave Delhi on August 27 for the Championships starting September 1 in Milan.
Indian Boxing Federation secretary general P K M Raja said if Vijender stays back for the ceremony, then it would leave him with very little time to get acclimatised to the conditions in Milan before the championship.
"If he doesn't go with the team, then he would go only on August 30 and the medical and weighing-in at the World Championships is scheduled the very next day. The awards ceremony is very important and it's a great moment in his career but if he stays back then he would reach Milan exhausted. It would affect him mentally and it might show in the ring as well," Raja said.
He said the IBF has already written to the Sports Ministry requesting if Vijender and Bisht's awards can be presented after they return from the World Championships. "We are still waiting for a response. It's a contentious issue and hopefully the Ministry will guide us as to how to handle it," Raja added.
After the furore created by cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's absence from the Padma awards function earlier this year, the Sports Ministry has come up with new guidelines for athletes and federations.
According to the new norms, athletes who are not able to attend the national awards ceremonies have to intimate in advance citing reasons. The Ministry will then organise a separate ceremony to hand over their awards.