The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not offer any wild cards for the tennis events at this year’s Rio Olympics which means Indian players will have to qualify for main draws solely on the basis of their rankings.
ITF Secretary General Juan Margets has clarified that no National Association can apply for wild cards.
It means that All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) President Anil Khanna, who is also the ITF Vice President, will not be able to help the Indian players, particularly Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.
Paes is still close to top-50 but Bhupathi is languishing below 200.
“We have received several enquiries regarding applications for ‘wild cards’ for the Olympic Tennis Event and I wanted to take this opportunity to once more clarify that ‘wild cards’ do not exist in the Olympic Tennis Event,” Margets said in a statement.
“In previous Olympic Games the ITF had a degree of discretionary oversight on the allocation of Final Qualification Places (ITF Places), which might have been considered similar to the concept of wild cards in other events.
“Now, in line with International Olympic Committee requirements, this has changed for Rio 2016. While Final Qualification Places remain, they are now allocated strictly according to the criteria outlined in the Qualification System,” he added.
“The ITF has no discretionary power to allocate Final Qualification Places and consequently National Associations cannot apply for Final Qualification Places (or wild cards),” Margets clarified.
Rohan Bopanna, at present, is India’s top-ranked doubles player at number 11 followed by Leander Paes (52), who is eyeing a record seventh Olympics appearance but has been struggling for form.
Saketh Myneni (113), Purav Raja (115) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (140) form the top-five.
Stalwart Mahesh Bhupathi, who is world No.214 right now, has time till June 6 to improve his ranking since world standings on that day will be considered for entry into the Rio Games.
In a draw of 64 in the men’s and women’s singles competition, 56 are direct entries, six are final qualification places (ITF) and two are tripartite commission invitation places.
In doubles, 24 teams have direct entry and eight are final qualification places (ITF). Any doubles player ranked 10th or better will gain direct entry and have a choice of partner.