AITA clears the air over project Apollo Mission 2018

September 29th, 2008 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) The All India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary Anil Khanna Monday was at pains to explain that the apex organisation of the game was only trying to bring about transparency in the sponsorship world and it had nothing to do with Mahesh Bhupathi as a media report suggested.Khanna said that AITA was not interested in kicking up an unnecessary controversy, it only sought to check the veracity of ads in the media about a corporate - Apollo Tyres - in quest of producing Grand Slam champions.

Apollo Tyres in its project Mission 2018 has promised to pump in Rs. 1 billion in the next ten years to produce Grand Slam Champions. The project has started this year but AITA feels that the company is more interested in promoting its own brand and has not shown any signs of actual work on the ground related to the development of the sport.

Bhupathi is also associated with the project as his tennis village in Bangalore is where the company has arranged for the training.

“We had written to Apollo Tyres early this month to clarify how they plan to go about their project. We respect Apollo Tyres and are aware that they maintain highest level of corporate governance. What we want is a little transparency to know what is happening and I see no reason for them not to do so,” Khanna said.

“AITA considers it nothing wrong in requesting Apollo Tyres to make public their spending on the development of tennis excluding money spent on the advertisement,” he added.

Khanna said he wanted clarification from Apollo Tyres on the issue so that it should not take the focus from the people who are involved in the development of tennis but have not publicly advertised themselves through media.

“We give full respect to their project despite it being a private initiative but there are a plenty of sponsors out there, including a few who might be spending more than Apollo Tyres,” he said.

“Therefore, I felt it was appropriate that Apollo Tyres should be reminded, once again, that their commercial appearing in the magazine and television seem to give an impression that it is only their commitment that is going to work towards creation of a Grand Slam champion.”

The controversy cropped up after a media report Monday claimed that AITA wants to curb Bhupathi’s “rising importance” in Indian tennis.

Khanna said the media report implicated that the AITA is targeting Bhupathi which is not the case.

“Mahesh is nowhere involved. He is an honourable player. We have great respect for him and he is doing a great job running his academy,” Khanna said.

AITA set a letter to CEO of Apollo Tyres Neeraj S. Kanwar Sep 4 asking the company to give details of the money spent on their project but have not received a reply so far.

Khanna said AITA also sent a reminder Sep 23 but the association has not received any word from Apollo Tyres.

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