New Delhi: Pleading the case of eminent sportspersons who have won laurels for the country at international level, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ajay Maken on Monday sought the inclusion of sports as a category for conferring the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.

Maken has written to Home Minister P Chidambaram in this regard, urging him to take up the issue of inclusion of sports as a separate category for the selection of Bharat Ratna Awards.

"Unfortunately, sports is not a separate category for the selection of awards and thus no sportsperson has yet got a Bharat Ratna. I have written to the Home Minister in this regard," said the minister.

Asked if his initiative came in the wake of growing demand for conferring the Bharat Ratna on iconic cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, the minister said, "I took this decision after I became Sports Minister. This should not be linked to anything else."

Maken said "the Sports Ministry does not select the candidates for the Bharat Ratna awards.

The Prime Minister selects the awards and the President approves them. The Sports Ministry is intervening only to help the sportspersons."

Asked which sportsperson could be the first one to get the award, the minister said, "I would be pleased if any sportsperson gets a Bharat Ratna. If Sachin gets it, I will be happy that a sportsperson got a Bharat Ratna. The Sports Ministry's intervention is not name specific, it is only to help include sports as a category."