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AITA to send two doubles teams to Olympics

CNN-IBN
Jul 05, 2012 at 05:59pm IST

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New Delhi: Putting an end to the row surrounding the selection of India's team for the London Olympics, the All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) announced on Thursday that it will send two men's doubles teams to the Games, where Leander Paes will partner Vishnu Vardhan and Mahesh Bhupathi will team up with Rohan Bopanna.

Backing Paes, AITA made it clear that it did not envisage an Indian Olympic team without the name of Paes, who has been paired with Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles' category in London. Interesting, earlier in the day, Sania told CNN-IBN that she wished to partner Bhupathi in the mixed doubles.

The decision may not go down well with Bhupathi, who most recently won the French Open mixed doubles crown with Sania Mirza.

Khanna said Sania, in case she gets a wildcard for the Olympics on June 28, will partner Paes as the duo's combined ranking ensures a direct entry to the mega event. "Leander and Sania are the only direct entry for the mixed doubles. If Sania gets a wild card, they will be only Indian pair at number 19 with their combined rankings," he added.

Reacting to AITA's announcement, Paes' father Vece said that his son was yet to decide on this. "This decision may not be acceptable to Leander," the senior Paes said.

Announcing its decision, AITA president Anil Khann urged Paes to "forgive the utterances of certain players" adding that it was "not possible to send a team to London with Leander featuring in it."

"The best option for AITA is to send two teams to the Olympics. AITA does not want Leander's image to be tarnished. We request Leander to forgive the utterances of certain players," said Khanna while making it clear that AITA was not happy with how the players had reacted.

He stated that disciplinary action may be taken after the Olympics. "For the kinds of reactions our players have given in last couple days, AITA will not consider this an act of discipline. AITA does not wish to discipline Mahesh and Rohan before the Olympics. AITA will establish code of conduct and action will be taken after the Olympics. We appeal to all to graciously accept AITA's decision."

Regarding India's No.1-ranked singles' player, Somdev Devvarman, who earlier on Thursday told CNN-IBN that he was fit and available for the Olympics in either singles' or doubles' categories, Khanna said: "Somdev is still unfit, hence not considered. We have applied for a wildcard entry for Somdev [at the Olympics]. We don't want to jeopardize India's chances. Somdev isn't taking part in Wimbledon."

Vishnu Vardhan, on the other hand, expressed his pleasure at being paired with Paes for London 2012. Speaking to CNN-IBN, the young player said, "I am very happy, very excited to play with Leander. I am happy that AITA has taken this decision."

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