Sports Ministry intervenes, seeks explanation from AITA

Last Updated: Monday, June 18, 2012 - 18:33

New Delhi: As the tennis row escalated with Rohan Bopanna also refusing to pair with Leander Paes for the London Olympics, the Sports Ministry today sought an explanation from the AITA on the raging controversy concerning the selection of the men's doubles pair.

The ministry intervened after Mahesh Bhupathi wrote to Sports Minister Ajay Maken, saying that AITA's decision has "surprised" and "bemused" him as he was paired with Paes despite his reluctance.

The ministry shot off a six-point letter to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) President Anil Khanna and sought explanation by tomorrow afternoon.

The letter asked why AITA chose to select only one team when two teams can be sent to compete in next month's Olympics.

"The government has been funding and supporting multi players to train and qualify for the Olympics. The justification of denying two players, who have qualified as a team on merit by sending just one Indian team, when India can send two teams?" the letter asked.

"With two days left for the deadline, would not AITA be sending Paes with a youngster to represent India, the aforesaid action of AITA is depriving India of sending another team to London Olympics, the reasons for this may be explained."

The letter asked AITA to explain why the combination of Bhupathi and Bopanna was being ignored by them.

New Delhi: As the tennis row escalated with Rohan Bopanna also refusing to pair with Leander Paes for the London Olympics, the Sports Ministry today sought an explanation from the AITA on the raging controversy concerning the selection of the men's doubles pair.

The ministry intervened after Mahesh Bhupathi wrote to Sports Minister Ajay Maken, saying that AITA's decision has "surprised" and "bemused" him as he was paired with Paes despite his reluctance.

The ministry shot off a six-point letter to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) President Anil Khanna and sought explanation by tomorrow afternoon.

The letter asked why AITA chose to select only one team when two teams can be sent to compete in next month's Olympics.

"The government has been funding and supporting multi players to train and qualify for the Olympics. The justification of denying two players, who have qualified as a team on merit by sending just one Indian team, when India can send two teams?" the letter asked.

"With two days left for the deadline, would not AITA be sending Paes with a youngster to represent India, the aforesaid action of AITA is depriving India of sending another team to London Olympics, the reasons for this may be explained."

The letter asked AITA to explain why the combination of Bhupathi and Bopanna was being ignored by them.

Paes, with a top-10 ATP ranking, is entitled to pick a partner of choice for the big event. Bhupathi, on the other hand, can make the draw as a team with his current partner Rohan Bopanna on the basis of their combined ranking.

Bhupathi has insisted on being paired with Bopanna with whom he joined hands at the start of the season specifically with Olympics on mind.

Bhupathi has reacted to sharply to AITA's decision saying that he would not share court with someone who "backstabbed" him by breaking up the partnership last season despite being well aware that 2012 is an Olympic year.

With Bopanna also refusing to team up with Paes, sighting his pact and on-court camaraderie with Bhupathi, the AITA is left with massive feud to resolve besides finding a partner for Paes.

AITA had earlier warned that disciplinary action will be taken against the player, who refuses to be part of the team. If Bopanna too sticks to his stand than AITA may be left with no option but to select a youngster such as Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri to team up with Paes.

Paes and Bhupathi have played four Olympics together but have never won a medal. Paes though won a singles bronze medal at 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 09:12

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