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Bopanna refuses to partner Paes,Minister asks why not send two teams to London

Sports Minister Ajay Maken has questioned All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) decision to field just one doubles team — Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi — at the London Olympics starting next month.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
June 18, 2012 9:47:07 pm

Sports Minister Ajay Maken has questioned All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) decision to field just one doubles team — Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi — at the London Olympics starting next month.

In a letter to the national tennis body,Maken has asked why Paes should not pair up with a younger partner so that Bhupathi can take court at the Games with his present partner Rohan Bopanna.

This comes on a day when Bopanna said that though he was approached by the federation in the last couple of days to partner Paes,he has turned down the offer.

“Since the beginning of the year,I have partnered with Mahesh Bhupathi towards playing together as a team at the Olympics. This was communicated to the AITA at every step and we were encouraged to continue to play together. Having played alongside Leander Paes only twice during my career,I recognise that as a team

we are under-prepared for the demands of the Olympics,” Bopanna said in a statement.

The AITA,meanwhile,isn’t quite pleased with the government intervening in selection matters. “No sports federation will like inputs in selection matter from the government. The Sports Ministry as a rule should not get into this. Had the selectors chosen any other combination,it would have still been an unpopular choice,” said a top official who did not wish to be named.

Maken said even he was not in favour of politicians dictating terms on federations. “I am taking up the issue as a matter of national interest. I received Mahesh Bhupathi’s e-mail yesterday and this morning I have asked senior officials of the Sports Ministry to talk to the AITA people to look into the matter,” he said.

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