The sheer duplicity of it all is staggering | india | Hindustan Times
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The sheer duplicity of it all is staggering

india Updated: Jan 04, 2010 22:55 IST
Sukhwant Basra
Sukhwant Basra
Hindustan Times
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That Vijay Amritraj was making a killing from the Chennai Open was an open secret in tennis circles. Over the years, I heard from officials and players. But nobody had a precise figure to offer. What’s surprising though is just why those in power at the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association didn’t object even when the tournament was struggling to stay afloat?

Professionals, of course, must be paid their price. Why would Amritraj refuse a sum of $140,000 (Rs 65 lakh) {as reported by HT on Monday} if someone is willing to pay? Of course, Amritraj’s projection that he was doing all this for love of Chennai could be put down to clever posturing from someone who has successfully made the transition from player to entrepreneur.

But it is the connivance of a pliant organising committee that is more damning. That the same amount could have been better used for player development or for setting up world-class training facilities for juniors is a no-brainer.

The best bit is that the 2008 WTA Bangalore Open offered Amritraj Rs 15 lakh for his role as commentator and master of ceremonies. It ended up paying him just a little above half that amount as the event did not make money. At Chennai, Amritraj was paid more than four times that sum irrespective of the fortunes of the event.

Amritraj’s main strength is the ability to maintain a spotless public image. He is extremely suave with the media and successfully projects himself as the force behind the Chennai Open. But it seems the present organising committee, under Karti Chidambaram, isn’t a cowed-down force and is hitting back. It is under Chidambaram’s supervision that Prakash Amritraj wasn’t offered a wildcard and his father no longer remained chairman of the organising committee.

No matter how much Amritraj continues to speak about his love for India and the thrill of playing for the Tricolour, his son continues to be a US passport holder and thus ineligible to represent this nation. It is hollow to talk about being actively concerned and involved in the future of Indian tennis when the man does not even seem to want his son to surrender his US citizenship to play for India.