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AITA to send two doubles teams to Olympics

June 21, 2012 - New Delhi

The All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) on Thursday announced that it will send two men's doubles teams to the 2012 Olympic Games. It said Leander Paes will partner Vishnu Vardhan, while Mahesh Bhupathi will team up with Rohan Bopanna.

Putting an end to the row surrounding the selection of India's team for the London Olympics, the AITA, backing Paes, made it clear that it did not envisage an Indian Olympic team without the name of Paes, who has been paired with Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles' category in London should she get a wild card entry.

Sania is on record as saying that personally she would like to partner Bhupathi in the mixed doubles, but has told the AITA that she will abide by its decision unconditionally in the national interest.

Reacting to the AITA's announcement, Paes' father, Vece, said that his son would be issuing a response shortly on it.

"This decision may not be acceptable to Leander," the senior Paes said.

Earlier, AITA president Anil Khanna urged Paes to "forgive the utterances of certain players" adding that it was "not possible to send a team to London without Leander featuring in it."

"The best option for AITA is to send two teams to the Olympics. AITA does not want Leander's image to be tarnished. We request Leander to forgive the utterances of certain players," said Khanna while making it clear that AITA was not happy with how the players had reacted.

He stated that disciplinary action may be taken after the Olympics.

"For the kinds of reactions our players have given in last couple days, AITA will not consider this an act of discipline. AITA does not wish to discipline Mahesh and Rohan before the Olympics. AITA will establish code of conduct and action will be taken after the Olympics. We appeal to all to graciously accept AITA's decision," Khanna said.

Regarding India's No.1-ranked singles' player, Somdev Devvarman, Khanna said: "Somdev is still unfit, hence not considered. We have applied for a wildcard entry for Somdev [at the Olympics]. We don't want to jeopardize India's chances. Somdev isn't taking part in Wimbledon."

Vishnu Vardhan, on the other hand, expressed his pleasure at being paired with Paes for London 2012.

"I am very happy, very excited to play with Leander. I am happy that AITA has taken this decision," Vardhan said.


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