The All India Tennis Association (AITA) is planning to start a fund to financially support players in the country starved of prize money while the professional tour stands suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With tours of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), men’s ATP and women’s WTA halted till at least July, the lower-ranked players worldwide have voiced concerns about the freeze in income as entering tournaments and winning matches is the only way for them to earn money.
AITA secretary-general Hironmoy Chatterjee said the federation is holding discussions on working out ways to help the players get through the crisis.
“We are also concerned about the situation from the players’ perspective,” Chatterjee said. “We are planning to create a fund to support the players. We have already started discussions on that. We are asking the state associations to also be involved in this because we have players from all over India. The state associations could also be asked to chip in for this fund.
“Also, we will try to raise some money externally. In the current situation, everyone first wants to lend support in the fight against Covid-19, like in the PM CARES fund. For any other aspect, it is difficult that people will immediately come forward. We are discussing various modalities,” he added.
Chatterjee could not put a time frame on the creation of the fund or how it would be utilised. “Once we create the fund, only then will we be able to understand how much we have been able to raise and how we can distribute it to those actually in need. Since there is a lockdown, it will be difficult to put things in place immediately. We will definitely be able to do something about it soon.”
The ITF, tennis’ governing body, too has stated its intention to lend a helping hand while asking players around the world to seek government support, wherever possible.
Chatterjee ruled out resuming domestic tennis in the country until July. “If the parent body is suspending everything till July, the question of us resuming in between does not arise. The situation is also not conducive. We need to see how the situation improves, and once it does, we will take a call. I don’t see anything happening till July, at least,” the AITA secretary-general said.
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