Ministry backing on Olympic selection: AITA chief
"And the idea should be to send the best possible medal winning team and not necessarily two teams just as a filler because it was completely explained that Leander Paes going with a world number 207 or 308 is not a medal-winning prospect," said Khanna after Sports Minister Ajay Maken refused to intervene in the selection crisis.
After the Sports Ministry left it to AITA to take a final call on the men`s doubles combination for the upcoming mega-event, Khanna said, "We have only three eminent doubles players and only two out of the three can go and therefore it was felt that the selection committee…we will go and talk to them once again and see what we need to do. "But the selection committee of the AITA has already decided that the No.1 player, which is Leander Paes should partner Mahesh Bhupathi who is India`s No. 3 right now. And in case Mahesh declines then Leander should partner with Bopanna.
"So we will re-discuss and we will be writing to the players once again that the government is in total agreement with the AITA and is fully supportive that AITA will have to do the selection and it is will be for the AITA to decide the best possible team in the national interest," insisted Khanna. Khanna also said the AITA wanted to take into consideration Paes` sentiments. "And it is also felt that sentiments of Leander Paes have to be kept in mind," said Khanna.
Bhupathi, who wants to be paired with Rohan Bopanna for the London Games, had approached the Ministry for help after AITA decided to send just one team comprising Paes and Bhupathi to London. Even Bopanna had refused to team up with Paes citing his commitment to Bhupathi with whom he joined hands this season. But Maken`s stand today has come as a blow to both Bhupathi and Bopanna`s hopes. Khanna though declined to comment when asked what would be AITA`s next option if both Bhupathi and Bopanna stick to their stand of not pairing with Paes for the Olympics.