Air India leaves Indian paddlers stranded at Delhi airport

Seven members of the Indian table tennis team heading for the ITTF Australia Open were stranded in Delhi Airport after their Air India flight was overbooked.

Seven members of the Indian team, including paddlers Manika Batra (in picture), Madhurika Patkar, Mouma Das, Harmeet Desai and head coach Massimo Costantini were left stranded in Delhi Airport.   -  Getty Images

Thanks to Air India's apathy, the Indian table tennis contingent's performance at the ITTF Australia Open is likely to suffer a lot after seven of the 17 squad members, including Commowealth Games double gold medallist Manika Batra, were disallowed to board a flight at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The Indian contingent, having returned from the last week's Korea Open, had to leave for Melbourne for the Australian Open, scheduled to start from Wednesday. The squad members were stunned to hear only 10 of them could board the aircraft since the plane had been overbooked.

Batra vented her anger out on Twitter, prompting Sports Authority of India (SAI) director general to step and make alternative arrangements.

Seven squad members, including paddlers Batra, Madhurika Patkar, Mouma Das, Harmeet Desai, head coach Massimo Costantini and support staff members Kishore Dey and Amarjeet Singh were thus scheduled to board a Singapore Airline flight late on Sunday night. It will mean all four players, whose departure was delayed, will arrive in Melbourne barely 12 hours before their first match.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the table tennis players' performance would suffer due to Air India's mismanagement,” M. P. Singh, secretary general of Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) , told Sportstar. “Thanks to the intervention of other relevant authorities, alternate arrangements are made, which would at least ensure that the players would not miss out on the tournament. But it's disheartening to see their performance suffering for no fault of theirs or the federation,” he added.

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