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Khelo India Winter Games: Athletes accuse govt of denying them cash prize

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Gulmarg: The award winners of the much-hyped first Khelo India Winter Games that concluded on Wednesday at famous Ski-resort Gulmarg have accused government of denying them cash prize.
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiuju had inaugurated the five-day Khelo India Winter Games at Gulmarg on March 7.
The players accused authorities of discriminatory attitude while dealing with the athletes of the valley.
“We are denied cash prizes. While governments of other states offer cash prizes in the Khelo India events to encourage players, the Jammu and Kashmir administration are denying us the cash rewards,” they said.
“We were told that we will get cash rewards for the first three positions. But today, we received only medals. Are we the children of lesser God,” a silver medal winner in Alpine skiing said.
“Was the event held to promote sports or downgrade the sportspersons,” he said.
Another awaerdee asked why government conducted such an event if it lacked funds. “Cash prizes are given all over India. I don’t know what is the issue with our administration? If funding is the issue they should not have organized such an event amid so much hype,” he said, adding, “a huge amount was spent on the advertisements and cultural events but when it comes to encouraging athletes, authorities have no funds.”
The medallists also accused the authorities of treating them “unfairly” when they tried to raise the issue. “They told us that we are not worth a piece of medal. Take it and go home,” he said.
Asked about why the winners have not been given cash prize, Secretary Youth Services and Sports Sarmad Hafeez said, “It is not about cash prize. I think the participation itself is a great thing.”
Around 700-800 sportspersons participated in the event at the Ski-resort in Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Barmulla district. These athletes participated in the 30 events including snowboarding, skiing, cross-country games and a snow show located at the venue located at an altitude 8,694 feet. (GNS)

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