Indian tennis stars threaten to boycott CWG

New Delhi: A day after vehemently denying that India’s top players have threatened to pull out of the Commonwealth Games due to non-payment of dues, the AITA was on Friday left red faced when it came to light that four elite players had indeed given the threat.

The men’s team for CWG — Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna — wrote a signed letter to All India Tennis Association that if they were not paid the dues by next month "none of them will be available for the Games in October".

Except for a minimal payment to Bhupathi, no player has received a single penny for their CWG preparations.

AITA Secretary General Anil Khanna, who had yesterday denied any such development of a possible boycott, today admitted to it and said talks with the Sports Ministry were on and the matter will be resolved within a week

"The government is sensitive towards the players and I am hoping that within a week a solution will be reached," Khanna said.

Khanna had a meeting with the Sports Ministry officials today but did not divulge the details. However he said that progress has been made on the issue and that all the players will be available for the Games.

According to the letter Khanna wrote to the players, the AITA has asked Sports Ministry to release USD 17,250 each to all four men’s players and Sania Mirza for their preparations.

The sum is for two years and the payment is in accordance with the players’ entitlement of USD 115 per day for 75 days in a year for CWG preparations as per the government rules.

The AITA was pressing that the allowance for tennis players should be for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 280 days in a year.

The government though has refused the proposal reportedly saying that they cannot change rules for tennis players.

The government wanted the players to produce their hotel bills, air-tickets and other expenses in original which is quite tough for the players as they travel extensively and are not keen to go through cumbersome government procedures.

"We suggested to the Govt that since we have proof of players playing in international tennis, we should not ask for bills as that is a very difficult exercise and since players are carrying their support staff, they are in any case spending a large amount of money out of their pockets," Khanna said in his explanation to the players.

Apart from the CWG dues, the players have also complained in their letter about delay in clearance of dues for the Asian Games and Olympics and also want support staff for CWG like Davis Cup.

Khanna said AITA had no role in clearing those dues as the money for those tournaments has to be cleared by Indian Olympic Association and they can just talk on behalf of the players with the relevant authorities.

The players made it clear in their letter that no dues were pending from AITA as far as Davis Cup ties were concerned. (PTI)

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