11 Sep : The payment row that threatened to derail India’s tennis campaign in the upcoming Commonwealth Games was resolved Saturday with the government approving Rs one crore for five elite players.
The elite men’s players — Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman — had threatened to pull out of the Games if there dues, in the last two years, were not cleared.
The Sports Ministry had accused the All India Tennis Association for delay in payment, saying it had not received players’ bills from the AITA for clearance.
Rahul Bhatnagar, Joint Secretary (International Sports Division) of Sports Ministry Saturday announced the government has approved the money to be released to the players.
“The government has sanctioned Rs one crore and the players will get this money within the next week. Leander Paes will get Rs 19.26 lakh, Mahesh Bhupathi 19.62 lakh, Rohan Bopanna 18.33 lakh, Somdev Devvarman 25.88 lakh and Sania Mirza Rs 17.52 lakh,” Bhatnagar said at a press conference in New Delhi.
“As far as ministry is concerned, the matter is over now,” he added.
As per the government scheme for the players’ preparations for the Games, they were entitled to an allowance of USD 115 per day for 75 days in a year for training and competitions abroad.
Accordingly, the players were entitled to USD 17,250 each excluding the air-fare for travelling.
The money that has been approved includes the economy class air-fares but Bhatnagar did not reveal the number of tournaments for which the players have been given the air-fare.
AITA had asked for air-fare for at least 11 tournaments in year. The elite players were unhappy that they were not getting any benefit out of the government’s scheme.
The AITA had first denied and then confirmed the threat by the players.
After getting an assurance from the Sports Ministry, the players had then issued a joint statement that they will be available for the upcoming Davis Cup and the Commonwealth Games.