New Delhi: With just over a day to go to file entries for the Olympics, India is making a final bid to send a tennis team. After Sports Minister Ajay Maken backed out from the ongoing tennis impasse, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna has stepped in to resolve the issue.
Krishna, who is also the Life President of the All India Tennis Association (AITA), has asked AITA President Anil Khanna to meet all the the players personally and talk to them to resolve the issue immediately.
He has also requested the three tennis players - Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to forget their personal differences and play for the country. "Players should not compromise on national interest," said Krishna.
Maken on Tuesday tweeted that he had no intention of getting involved in India's selection for the men's doubles tennis team for the London Olympics beginning in just over a month's time. "The Sports Ministry does not wish to be a part of the selection process of tennis. We had raised certain issues because of requests from certain iconic players. The Sports Ministry leaves it to the AITA to exercise any of the options in the best of national interests," he said.
According to sources, for the second time Bhupathi had turned down the AITA's offer to partner Paes at the Olympics. The AITA had mailed Bhupathi to reconsider his decision.
Earlier on Tuesday, a defiant All India Tennis Association (AITA) had stood by its decision to pair Paes with Bhupathi for the London Olympics, insisting that teaming the former with a junior player would be "most inappropriate".
The AITA also explained that the Bhupathi-Bopanna pair was never assured of an entry to the Olympics. "Asking Leander to pair with a junior player would be the most inappropriate decision and will be deemed to be an insult to Leander Paes, who enjoys great respect in International Tennis Circuit," was the AITA's official stance.
Lashing out at both Bhupathi and Bopanna, the AITA said, "It should be understood that two players cannot make a pact with each other to keep the number one player out and publicly suggest in media that the No.1 player should go to Olympics with No. 5."
The AITA explained that if it let Bhupathi and Bopanna pair up, then Paes would be forced to play with either Yuki Bhambri (ranked 306) or Vishnu Vardhan (207) since the more experienced Somdev Devvarman is injured. "It would be meaningless to send Leander with a junior player who has not played Grand Slam. Leander being the best player must be paired with either Rohan Bopanna or Mahesh Bhupathi."
Time is running out as the final date of submitting entries is June 21.
The crisis erupted after Bhupathi and Bopanna refused to partner Paes at the Olympics. Bhupathi had accused Paes of deceiving him. In turn, Paes' father Vece Paes accused Bopanna of back-stabbing both Leander and Mahesh. Earlier, on Monday, speaking to CNN-IBN from London, Bhupathi said he had rejected the AITA's request to reconsider his decision not to partner Paes.