Asian Games of the Haryana: Medal winners suffer prize money cut for podium finish at both CWG

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Nine months after Haryana government amended its cash award policy, it has emerged that last year’s Asian Games medal winners from the state, who also bagged medals at the Commonwealth Games, have received reduced prize money due to multiple victories at international events in the same financial year. The cut in prize money is in accordance with the new sports policy.

Athletes like world number one wrestler and Asian Games champion Bajrang Punia and Asian Games champion Vinesh Phogat, apart from other medallists in both the events have got reduced prize money.
According to the new sports policy, “In case a sportsperson wins more than one medal during a financial year, he/she will receive full award
money for the highest medal and at 50 per cent of the award money for the second and subsequent medals.”
Last week, Haryana government had cancelled the cash awards function for 3000 state players and had informed the athletes about the money being deposited in their bank accounts by June 25. On Tuesday, Punia had tweeted about the deduction in prize money and wrestler Vinesh Phogat too tweeted about the deduction.
“We got Rs 2.25 crore instead of Rs 3 crore in our bank account. Firstly, the state government cancelled the awards function for the medallists and now this step has been implemented. I spoke to other wrestlers and they told me that this step has been taken as per new sports policy, where we will be given half the prize money of CWG and today’s deduction was from the CWG prize money. As a player, I can only say that, yeh sarkar players ke sath sautela vyavahar kar rahi hai, (As a player, I can say that this government are giving the players a step-motherly treatment). Haryana is known for winning the highest number of medals for the country and the state government is treating the athletes like a burden on them,” said Punia.

In the CWG held at Australia last year, Haryana had won one-third of India’s medals with a total of 22 medals out of 66 medals won. In the Asian Games held in Indonesia, Haryana players accounted for 17 medals out of 61 medals bagged by the country. Players like Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Neeraj Chopra had won gold medals in both the events apart from some other players like shooter Sanjeev Rajput.

The news sports policy also means that if a player wins a medal in world championship in the same year as Olympics or Asian Games/CWG, the medal in higher category will alone be given the full cash prize.

Talking to The Indian Express, Phogat said: “As a player, we prepare the same for every event and it takes the same effort to win medal whether it be Olympics, World Championship or Asian Games or Commonwealth Games. How can the Haryana government term a event higher or lower and give the players reduced prize money for the second event in the same year. When we contacted the sports department officials today, we were told that the Rs 75 lakh deduction from the Rs 3 crore prize money of Asian Games is for the deduction for the prize money of Rs 1.5 crore given in CWG as we have now won Asian games medal. Is it a crime to win medals in two events? Also as per the sports policy, the cash prize for youth/cadet category have also been stopped. They have also not informed or given us any jobs for winning medals in CWG/Asian Games.”
Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs minister Anil Vij could not be contacted despite several attempts. Attempts to contact Bhupinder Singh, Director Sports, Haryana also could not be reached.