Initial reports said that Leander Paes hadn’t reached the Olympics village with the Indian contingent and refused to stay with his doubles partner Rohan Bopanna. But the Indian tennis legend has hit back at the reports and said that the Indian contingent had always known he would be arriving later. 

Paes told Hindustan Times that he had informed India’s tennis coach Zeeshan Ali and the head of the Indian contingent that he would be arriving later since he was participating in a tennis league in the US. 

He also said that he had never spoken about not sharing a room and would have no problem sharing the room “with anyone”. 

b’Paes and Bopanna during a promotional event | Source: PTI’

Paes, who is playing in his seventh straight Olympics, a first in tennis, checked in at the Games Village on the eve of the opening ceremony on Thursday. He arrived late and was left high and dry with no room allotted to him before finally being given a room Thursday evening.

India’s Chef-de-Mission Rakesh Gupta also sought to end the controversy regarding the sharing of a room and said that Paes was always going to stay alone. 

“He (Paes) was given a room and there’s no controversy at all. For a legend like him, Paes deserved a separate room for himself,” Gupta said, explaining that the Indian ace was playing a tournament in New York and hence the delay. 

b”The duo haven’t had any practice together so far | Source: AFP”

But due to Paes arriving late, Bopanna had to make arrangements for practice with Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic. 

He also teamed up with Sania Mirza while coach Zeeshan Ali paired up with the other women’s doubles player Pratharna Thombare, who is in her maiden Olympics, during practice. 

Paes, however, claimed that he had gone for the scheduled practice on Thursday and that none of the other players were there due to which he had to play with coach Zeeshan Ali. 

(With inputs from PTI)

(Feature image source: PTI)