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AITA seeks dues, more govt. support

NEW DELHI: The All India Tennis Association (AITA) considered one of the richest sports bodies in the country is apparently now in the red.

For, the Sports Ministry has not yet fulfilled its promise of meeting the tournament prize money for approved events conducted by the national body as part of the preparation for the Commonwealth Games. The AITA has sought dues to the tune of two crore rupees from the government, which had made only a partial payment of Rs.50 lakh.

AITA Secretary-General Anil Khanna said that he was confident that the government, which has been quite considerate towards the promotion of tennis, would not only pay the dues but also support the national body towards conducting many more events in future.

It has been argued that conducting the entry level tournaments for men and women that offered prize money of $10,000, was the only way to help the Indian players gain valuable exposure and ranking points, with limited expenditure.

The ministry has generally viewed prize money as an incentive in itself for the players, but it has been highlighted by the AITA that such funds were just about sufficient for the players to meet their travelling and living costs in the circuit.

The AITA has sought more money from the government so that many such events could be conducted in the country smoothly. It is common knowledge that a lot more money apart from prize money is required for each event to meet the officiating and other organisational costs.

Countering the argument that the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) was conducting most of the events as there was money from government, television rights fee from Doordarshan and sponsorship funds, Anil Khanna said that it was a wrong perception.

“All the events are not covered by Doordarshan. So, we distribute the money from Doordarshan as grant to all the organisers across the country, equally. It is very difficult to raise sponsorship for all events, irrespective of television coverage,” he said.

There was also a view that Delhi was conducting many events to strengthen its voting rights, as the AITA constitution had been amended a few years ago to provide a performance incentive for the State units. “It is like questioning why Grand Slam nations have most votes in the International Tennis Federation,” countered Khanna. He argued that each Grand Slam nation had 12 votes as per ITF rules, and that India by its sheer performance had raised its grade to nine votes, a status enjoyed only by 14 countries.

“Nobody is stopping anyone from conducting tournaments. We need more tournaments to take Indian tennis forward,” said Khanna. — Special Correspondent

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