Indian gov't won't intercede in Olympic dispute
The Indian government will not intervene in the dispute between doubles players Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, and the All India Tennis Association (AITA). Bhupathi and Bopanna want to play together at the London Olympics, but AITA has picked Bhupathi to play with his former partner Leander Paes, a request that Bhupathi has refused.
Bhupathi is furious with Paes after his former partner decided to stop playing with him at the end of 2011, and did not tell him that he had already picked a new partner, Radek Stepanek.
Indian Sports minster Ajay Maken had said that he wondered why AITA could not send two teams to the Olympics, pairing Paes with Yuki Bhambri or Vishnu Vardhan. The Indian press reported that AITA responded by saying that because Paes is India's top ranked doubles player, he should not be asked to compete with a lesser player whom he would have little chance to win a medal with.
Bhupathi has asked Maken to intervene, but the minister later said that he would not, and would leave it up to AITA to make the call.
"The sports ministry doesn't wish to be a part of the selection process. It had raised with AITA certain issues which had been brought to its notice by certain eminent and iconic players," Maken said. "In the meeting held in the ministry today with AITA officials, certain options were suggested by AITA in the prevailing circumstance. The sports ministry advised the AITA to exercise the option which is in the best of national interest."
AITA said that if Bhupathi continues to refuse to play with Paes, they will ask Bopanna to play with him. If Bopanna also refuses, than Paes would pair up with either Bhambri or Vardhan. AITA says that if Bhupathi and Bopanna do not compromise, they may seek disciplinary action against them.