Tokyo, July 19: Ace tennis star Sania Mirza has said the team sacrificed a very good shot at a medal in the mixed doubles category in the Tokyo Olympics if Rohan Bopanna's claim that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) misled everyone over qualifications for the Games is indeed true.
Bopanna had said International Tennis Federation (ITF) never accepted an entry for him and Sumit Nagal and had made it clear that no changes were allowed after the deadline of nomination unless there was an injury or illness.
"ITF has never accepted an entry for Sumit Nagal & myself. ITF was clear that no changes were allowed after the nomination deadline (22nd June) unless Injury/Illness. AITA has mislead the players, government, media and everyone else by stating we still have a chance (sic)," Bopanna had tweeted.
Replying to this, Sania Mirza wrote: "Whaaattt??? If this is true then it's absolutely ridiculous and shameful..by 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 .."
AITA Secretary-General Anil Dhupar hit back at Bopanna and cleared the air about the qualification for the Tokyo Olympics and said the federation has done its very best to make sure maximum players could get a chance to feature in the Games.
"We have taken extraordinary efforts to ensure that our men's doubles entry are done. Unfortunately Divij and Rohan's entries were not accepted and were still on the waiting list, then all of sudden Sumit got an entry for singles. We got in touch with Sumit on whether to go or not to go. And by the time he confirmed we had already confirmed to ITF that he will be playing," Dhupar told ANI.
"All formalities started on June 17 and we also wrote taking a chance that if Sumit being single's player is also entitled to have a doubles partner. So that's why we changed the nomination from Rohan-Divij to Rohan and Sumit for the Tokyo Olympics. All offices were closed on Saturday and Sunday, ITF is closed.
I don't know why he is saying all this. If you are so good why are you depending on people's withdrawal? You are a world-class player you should enter the Olympics on your own, why are you depending on withdrawal."
In the men's singles, Nagal qualified for the Tokyo Olympics on the basis of withdrawals. The 23-year-old currently sits at 154 in the ATP Ranking. He achieved career-high No. 122 on August 24, 2020, after reaching Prague, CZE Challenger QF.
Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina were confirmed to represent India in women's doubles at the Olympics after entries were officially announced in July. Sania is now set to become the first female athlete to represent India at four Olympics when she features at the Tokyo 2020, slated to get underway from July 23 while Ankita Raina will be making her debut at the showpiece event.
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