New Delhi: The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour of India, which was named after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was on Friday rechristened in the honour of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand.
The decision comes following the admirable performance of both men's and women's hockey teams in the Tokyo Olympics.
The Award is administered by the Sports Ministry and given away every year at a special function by the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
PM Modi's move has followed the outpouring of positive public sentiments after the superb showing of the Indian men's and women's hockey teams at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
On Thursday, Manpreet Singh-led men's hockey team won a medal -- bronze -- at the quadrennial showpiece after more than four decades. The women's team fought tooth and nail before losing to Great Britain 3-4 in the bronze-medal match on Friday.
The Indian women's hockey team had defeated world No. 2 Australia in the quarterfinals, but went down to Argentina in the semifinals and played for bronze against Great Britain on Friday.
India's chess prodigy Viswanathan Anand was the first recipient of the Khel Ratna Award.
Some of its notable recipients are baize sport exponents Geet Sethi and Pankaj Advani, boxer MC Mary Kom, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, shooters Abhinav Bindra and Vijay Kumar, shuttler PV Sindhu and wrestler Sushil Kumar.
"I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! Jai Hind!" tweeted the PM.
Soon after the women's team lost the bronze-medal match, PM Modi tweeted, "We narrowly missed a medal in Women's Hockey but this team reflects the spirit of New India -- where we give our best and scale new frontiers. More importantly, their success at #Tokyo2020 will motivate young daughters of India to take up Hockey and excel in it. Proud of this team."
Retweeting PM Modi's announcement about the Khel Ratna being named Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said, "Major Dhyan Chand is India's most legendary & loved sporting icons; it is only befitting that India's Highest Sporting Honour be named after him. His life and achievements have inspired generations of sportspersons who have achieved glory for India."