TOKYO 2020: Bopanna-AITA spar over entry faux pas

Rohan Bopanna has strongly expressed his displeasure over AITA's handling of players entry at the Tokyo Olympics
Rohan Bopanna has strongly expressed his displeasure over AITA's handling of players entry at the Tokyo Olympics.

Rohan Bopanna and the All India Tennis Association (AITA) are engaged in a spat over the faux pas regarding players entry at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Bopanna and Divij Sharan were paired for the men’s doubles event but the team failed to make the cut because of its low combined rank of 113.

After Sumit Nagal attained the qualification mark for the men’s singles on July 16 following large-scale withdrawals, AITA saw hope in getting a men’s doubles team’s entry since singles players were being given the priority to fill the doubles draws.

The AITA announced that it has changed the combination by pairing Bopanna with Nagal.

Bopanna today countered AITA’s claim. “ITF has never accepted an entry for Sumit Nagal and  myself. ITF was clear that no changes were allowed after the nomination deadline (June 22) unless Injury/Illness. AITA has mislead the players, Government, media and everyone else by stating we still have a chance,” Bopanna tweeted.

AITA has strongly reacted to the criticism by Bopanna, who was supported by Sania Mirza.

The national tennis federation condemned the “inappropriate and baseless” comments by Sania and Bopanna, who accused the AITA of misleading “everyone” by wrongly claiming that it had paired him with Sumit Nagal for the Tokyo Olympics.

AITA secretary general Anil Dhupar said they did reach out to the ITF for changing the nomination.

“We wrote to the ITF that we want to change the nomination and now want to pair Bopanna with Nagal, so please advise us how to go forward. While they said changing the nomination was possible only in case of injury and illness and also under special circumstances, they said they would keep us posted even as only seven hours are left for deadline to expire,” Dhupar told PTI.

“So, where is the question of misleading anyone. How are we supposed to gain by it? The fact is that Bopanna’s ranking was not good enough for qualification. We only tried to help him so that he could compete in the Games. Why he did not qualify on his own?”

Reacting to Bopanna’s tweet, Sania Mirza wrote, “Whaaattt??? If this is true then it’s absolutely ridiculous and this it also means that we have sacrificed a very good shot at a medal in the mixed doubles if you and I would have played as planned. We were both told that you and Sumit’s names have been given.” However, the question of missing out on a shot at medal in the mixed doubles does not arise since Bopanna could not qualify for the men’s doubles.

Only those players can play the mixed event who are already part of the singles or doubles draw.

The AITA explained how it tried hard to get a men’s doubles team in the draw, and thus lashed at both the players.

The tennis competition opens on July 24.