Indian tennis legend Mahesh Bhupathi is concerned that amid the complete shutdown of sports owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Indian tennis players might not earn any income. “Some tennis players get paid a lot of money, but anyone below the ranking of 50 are not getting any income, their coaches aren’t getting any money. The whole ecosystem of the sport is at a standstill, and I think the ATP & the WTA have to quickly figure things out for the near future,” Bhupathi said in an interview with senior sports journalist Digvijay Singh Deo in an exclusive to Wionews.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left the entire sporting calendar shattered and tennis is one of the sports to be most affected by the dreaded virus. The AELTC on Wednesday announced that Wimbledon stands cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the dreaded virus and the 134th edition of the Championships will be staged from June 28, 2021, to July 11, 2021. Earlier, the Rolland-Garros was postponed and will now be played from September 20 to October 4, 2020.
Bhupathi said that he is heartbroken by the cancellation of Wimbledon, but is hopeful the situation will improve. “As a tennis fan, I am heartbroken. Wimbledon has always been the epicenter of our sport. Even since I retired, I have spent every summer in London watching matches at sw19. But as sad as I am, the decision was expected given how serious the COVID-19 virus is, but hopefully, the situation will improve in the coming months and the sport will return soon,” he said.
When asked about the players’ livelihood, Bhupathi raised his concern for the players and coaches. He added, “These are tough times for not just the players who are ranked in the 200s, but even for the players ranked outside the top 50, they have absolutely no income. India’s Sumit Nagal is currently in an academy in Germany and I’m sure he’s struggling every week because there’s no money to be made.
I don’t know what the exact solution to the problem is, but I’m sure the ATP & WTA working on something. There have been significant contributions the tours have made to the pension plans over the last few years, so I think if they declare ‘force majeure’, they can get some money in the players’ hands, which is crucial.”