New Delhi: The French Open mixed doubles title may not ensure Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza an automatic ticket to the 2012 London Olympics. They have some more hurdles to cross.
Sania’s second Grand Slam title with Bhupathi and the first at the French Open has made sure the pair is India’s best bet at the Games, though Leander Paes is still the front-runner to team up with her in London.
Saina getting to London depends on her remaining in the top 10- ranked doubles players. She is precariously perched at No.10 and if she drops down the charts, she has to get a wild card to play in the Olympics.
If Sania fails to make the cut, the All India Tennis Association (AITA), hopes that she will get a wild card before the selectors sit down to decide on the pairing at their June 15 meeting. Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg and Liechenstein’s Stephanie Vogt have been offered two of the four wild cards.
AITA secretary general Anil Khanna is in Paris and is expected to meet International Tennis Federation (ITF) officials and make efforts to secure Sania a wild card as she is unlikely to retain her No.10 ranking after her first-round defeat in the women’s doubles in Paris.
Before leaving for Paris, Khanna said he was confident that Sania would get one of the remaining wild cards in view of her standing in the game. Her French Open success added to her stature.
S.P. Misra, a selector and Davis Cup captain, said as of now, the Paes-Sania pairing may get the nod. “Winning the French Open title doesn’t mean that Sania and Bhupathi will automatically pair up for the Olympics. If Sania and Bhupathi have to be the combination for London then they should be among the top 10 in the doubles rankings when the selectors meet on June 15. Bhupathi (World No.13), Rohan Bopanna (12)may go down further after their early exit from Paris. Paes (7) may still stay below 10 to make it to London and in that case he is likely be paired with Sania,” said Misra.
Misra, however, said that if Sania gets a wild card she can opt for a partner of her choice, but the selectors will take the final call. Jaideep Mukherjea, Rohit Rajpal, Zeeshan Ali and Sai Jayalakshmi are the other selectors. “The AITA is doing its best to get a wild card for Sania. If Sania gets a wild card, she can opt for a partner but the selection committee will decide the final combination,” he added.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has set June 11 as the cut-off date for direct qualification on the basis of the rankings after the French Open.
The AITA will announce the team June 15 as ITF has set June 21 as the deadline to confirm the entry of eligible players for the Games.
After the mixed doubles victory Thursday, Sania said the decision on the pairing was not in their (Sania and Mahesh’s) control. “Olympics is something we have all dreamt about as athletes and we want to win a medal there, but a lot of things are not in our control,” said Sania.
Sania said if she and Mahesh were fielded at the London Games, they would give their best to give India its second Olympic tennis medal. Paes had given the country its first Olympic tennis medal, a singles bronze, at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
“If we do get that opportunity we are going to give whatever we have to get that medal,” said Sania.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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