No ‘wild cards’ at Rio Olympics: ITF tells AITA

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New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) Indian hopes of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi reuniting at the Olympics were dashed on Wednesday with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) informing the All India Tennis Association (AITA) that no ‘wild cards’ are available for the Rio Games.

“We have received several enquiries regarding applications for ‘wild cards’ for the Olympic tennis event and I wanted to take this opportunity to once more clarify that ‘wild cards’ do not exist in the Olympic tennis event,” ITF secretary general Juan Margets said in a letter to the AITA.

“In previous Olympic Games, the ITF had a degree of discretionary oversight on the allocation of final qualification places (ITF Places), which might have been considered similar to the concept of wild cards in other events,” Margets wrote.

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“Now, in line with International Olympic Committee requirements, this has changed for Rio 2016. While final qualification places remain, they are now allocated strictly according to the criteria outlined in the qualification system. The ITF has no discretionary power to allocate final qualification places and consequently national associations cannot apply for final qualification places (or wild cards),” he added.

Both Leander and Bhupathi are too low down the world doubles rankings to qualify for the Rio Olympics either individually or as a team. So, the only hope of them playing together at Rio was to get a wild card for them.

Leander will now have to improve his rankings till the French Open, which is the cut-off mark, and hope to combine with Rohan Bopanna. But Leander and Rohan do not exactly enjoy a cordial relationship.

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The run-up to the London Olympics was marred by an ugly controversy as both Rohan and Sania Mirza expressed their reluctance to partner Leander in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles events respectively. Leander had to eventually team up with Vishnu Vardhan while Rohan played with Bhupathi.



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