Bhupathi, Bopanna happy with AITA’s decision, IOA criticizes the duo

Reacting to AITA decision of pairing Mahesh Bhupathi with Rohan Bopanna, Bhupathi, 38, not one to go overboard, put it simply that he was happy that it has all been sorted out. “The last week has been difficult, extremely challenging for all concerned, but we respect them as necessary steps in this process. In making each of our decisions, we were guided by our strong convictions regarding what we believed was fair. We are greatly appreciative of the support we have received from across the world,” said Bhupathi, according to a news report in The Times Of India.

Bopanna, big-serve and daring attitude, was delighted and he let it show. He said, “This is my first Olympics and I’m very happy to have been nominated. It’s been a long road from breaking-up with Aisam (Qureshi), who I was doing very well with, to being here, a few weeks from playing the Olympics. I was thinking solely of the Olympics when I asked Mahesh to partner me last year. We put country before everything else as we prepared for the Games. We have worked tirelessly for it.”

Bopanna, however, brushed aside talk of extra pressure while playing the Olympics given all that transpired this last week. He said, “I don’t think we are going to be thinking pressure. We are going to put our heads down and work hard. We’ll give it our best shot. However great the pressure of playing the Olympics is, it can’t compare to the pressure we faced this past week.”

Meanwhile Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has criticised Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna for dictating terms to the AITA in team selection for London Olympics, saying no player should be allowed to have a "veto power", says media reports.

"I don't want to name the players but no player should be allowed to have a sort of veto power in team selection," V K Malhotra, IOA acting President, said in a clear reference to Bhupathi and Bopanna. Bhupathi and Bopanna had written to the AITA that they would not play in the Olympics if they were not paired together. The AITA, who had earlier picked Leander Paes and Bhupathi for the Olympics, had to reverse its decision and decide to send two teams, with the former teaming up with lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan.

Malhotra also criticised AITA for buckling under pressure from players, saying that today's decision to send two men's doubles teams for the Olympics can set bad precedent for other federations. "AITA should not have entertained their (Bhupathi and Bopanna's) threats," said Malhotra. "Today's decision has the potential to set precedents for other federations. It's the function of federations to pick player. The IOA also does not interfere in this. And the players cannot dictate terms on the federations. I hope today's decision does not set a precedent which if happens will be certainly bad for Indian sports," he said.