Defending the decision to pair Leander Paes with Mahesh Bhupathi, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) yesterday lobbed the ball back into the government court giving it five options to resolve the selection issue for the 2012 London Games.
AITA secretary general Bharat Oza, in his reply to Sports Minister Ajay Maken said that “asking Leander to pair with a junior player (Yuki Bhambri or Vishu Vardhan) would be the most inappropriate decision.”
Oza also said that doing so will be an insult to Leander, who enjoys great respect in the international tennis circuit.
Oza said the decision to send one or two teams was not an easy one. Coming down hard on Mahesh and Bopanna, Oza said: “It should be understood that two players cannot make a pact with each other to keep out the No 1 player out and thereafter publicly suggest in the media that No 1 player should go to the Olympics with the No 5 player.”
Oza’s five options to the sports ministry are below:
This means that there will be only one pair, but in the view of the selectors the best possible pair.
In case Mahesh does not want to play with Leander, Bopanna should play with the 1996 Olympic bronze winner. This again means only one pair will represent India in London.
Leander would pair up with either Yuki Bhambri or Vishnu Vardhan and Mahesh could team up with Rohan Bopanna.
... Leander decides not to go to the Olympics with a lower ranked player, only Mahesh and Bopanna will represent India.
Disciplinary action should be taken against Mahesh and Bopanna if they don’t abide by the decision of the selection committee, and Leander takes court with a junior partner.