Sports Minister Ajay Maken has said that he wanted both Mahesh Bhupathi and India’s tennis governing body to remember that national interest was of primary importance, as the impasse over Olympics doubles pairings showed no signs of resolution.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) had issued a notice saying that Bhupathi would have to partner with Leander Paes for the Olympics mens doubles, but both Bhupathi and second choice Rohan Bopanna have made it clear that they have no wish to play with Paes. Bopanna and Bhupathi want to partner for the Doubles event and had communicated as much to AITA for over a year. As AITA showed no signs in softening its stand however, Bhupathi wrote to Maken asking him to intervene.Confirming that he had received a letter from Bhupathi this morning, Maken said he had asked sports ministry senior officials to get in touch with AITA to find out why the association was not sending two teams to the Olympics when the country was entitled to do so. He also said that in the event that Sania Mirza got a wild card, it was important to consider who would partner her, adding that given the recent grand slam success she had shared with Bhupathi, it would make sense for Sania to partner him should she qualify.
He also said that he was no expert, but felt as an individual that if two players shared a chemistry that they should be allowed to play together.
However Maken was quick to emphasize that any communication with AITA would not be directional and merely in an advisory capacity. ‘I don’t believe that politicians should interfere in selection processes’ he said.
But Maken emphasized that whatever should be done should be done in the national interest of the country. ‘Whatever decision is taken has to be in the interest of what is best for India and its tennis chances” he said.