Unseemly tennis row

An unseemly row has surfaced over the decision of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) to pair two veterans, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi to represent the country at the London Olympics.



Bhupathi has warned the tennis body that he would boycott the Olympics if he is not allowed to team up with his regular partner, Rohan Bopanna.

The two are barely on speaking terms after their relationship soured in the late 1990s. However, considering their impressive on-court track-record, the AITA decided to pair the two again at London, despite Bhupathi informing them he would play only with his Bopanna.

The AITA wants the two tennis stars to bury their differences and strive for an Olympics medal, but a defiant Bhupathi is not willing to accede. The sports body believes that the Paes-Bhupathi team stands the best chance of winning India a medal. But Bhupathi argues that he has not practised with Paes, so there is virtually “no camaraderie…chemistry” between the two. According to him, the AITA should be able to send two doubles team to the London Olympics, instead of pairing an apparently mis-matched team.

The row over the doubles team has also seen the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) seeking an explanation from the AITA. The apex sporting body wants national sports federations such as the AITA to send only those players and teams that have strong prospects of winning medals.

The tragedy of Indian sports, and the dismal performance of its athletes at international events, is that the country’s huge contingent to these meets is packed with politicians, bureaucrats and administrators, with players being sidelined. India has been under-performing at many global events for years because of the bias against players, many of who do not get proper training for months at a stretch. It’s time India’s sports bosses cleaned up their act, especially before big events such as the Olympics.


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