New Delhi: Saina Nehwal got her passport on Saturday afternoon and can now take part the BWF World Super Series Masters Final in Malaysia which starts from Thursday (December 18).
The passport which was caught in a bureaucratic wrangle and had not renewed by the Regional Passport Office of Hyderabad was given to Saina after the matter was raised in media and the Chief Passport Officer, New Delhi, R Swaminathan intervened.
"I am very happy that I got my passport renewed on time and I am really thankful to R Swaminathan and the Hyderabad passport office for understanding my predicament. I also am thankful to the media for their support," Saina was quoted as saying by PTI.
"Now the first thing is to get the visa as soon as possible. I would be leaving for Chennai on Monday morning and would apply for the visa straightway," she added.
Her coach and former All-England champion Pullela Gopichand had revealed that Saina, India's best badminton player and world No.10, was invited to the tournament after two Chinese players ranked higher than her pulled out.
"It will be really sad if she misses the event because it is a season ending top 8 event which she got through only after two Chinese girls pulled out on Thursday night. One thing is that she was there on Decembder10, yesterday and day before, so it is not that she went only after office hours. She has been making rounds of the passport office everday for the last three days," said Gopichand.
When the matter was brought to the notice of Swaminathan, he assured that he would personally look into the matter and get the passport reissued.
"Saina applied for the passport on December 2. It generally takes 15 days for reissuing a new passport. In this case seeing the urgency she should have applied through tatkal facility. I have spoken to the Hyderabad passport officer and now she will get the passport today itself," said Swaminathan.
Earlier, Saina had slammed Hyderabad RPO for not even allowing her to meet the concerned officer.
"The passport officer didn't even want to meet me and so I couldn't explain my case to him. The passport office refused to renew my passport and asked me to come on Monday. I requested him thrice but to no avail," Saina said.
She, however, said she is still hopeful of getting her passport in time to join seven other players at the BWF World Super Series Masters Final in Malaysia.
"I am in shock since yesterday. This is the highest tournament that an Indian player has got a chance to play. I will still try to make it to the tournament if I get the passport. I will go to Chennai and try and get the visa after that," she said.
"This does not happen to cricketers and film stars. Then why me? It's a very important tournament for me," she added.
According to reports, authorities had told Saina that her passport will not be renewed before next Monday.
Saina's renewed passport was to be issued by December 10 but the lapse on the part of the Regional Passport Office of Hyderabad may cost the badminton player one of the biggest opportunities of her career.
The BWF World Super Series Masters Final in Malaysia from December 18 to 21 allows only world's top eight players to participate.
When she got the news of her qualification, she sought an appointment with the passport officer on Friday but her request was brushed aside, with the officer’s secretary telling her to come on Monday.