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Friday, April 19, 2024

Ministry seeks explanation from AITA

Ajay Maken

NEW DELHI: As the tennis row escalated with Rohan Bopanna also refusing to pair with Leander Paes for the London Olympics, the sports ministry on Monday 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.

It asked AITA why Bhupathi and Bopanna were not informed that only the number one player would be sent to represent India and the combined team ranking would be ignored.

“It is not clear as to why is AITA insisting on sending a team that has represented India in four previous Olympic Games, especially when the team of Leander and Mahesh have returned empty-handed each time and when both have openly voiced their concerns about playing together.”

The ministry also wanted to know if the AITA had spoken The ministry also wanted to know if the AITA had spoken to all three players and whether their opinion have been taken before arriving at the decision.

AITA had paired Bhupathi with Paes for the men’s doubles event despite former’s categorical rejection of the combination. Bhupathi had insisted that he wants to team up with Bopanna.

AITA had warned that disciplinary action will be taken against any player, who refuses to be part of the team.

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.

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