Indian tennis player Leander Paes has withdrawn from the 2018 Asian Games here after his repeated requests for a "specialist" men’s doubles partner were not met.
As reported by the Press Trust of India (PTI), the 18-time Grand Slam winner was asked to team-up with Sumit Nagal after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) decided to pair the country's top doubles players, Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, on their request.
"It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that I will not be playing the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia," Paes said in a statement sent to PTI.
"Despite my repeated requests, from so many weeks in advance, it is sad that we have not been able to put a doubles specialist in the team for a credible second doubles pairing for the Asian Games."
The AITA claim Paes did not inform them about his decision.
"Our job is to select players, and if someone chooses not to participate the least he can do is inform us," AITA secretary general Hiranmoy Chatterjee was reported as saying by ESPN.
"Now it's too late for us to field a replacement since accreditations are closed.
"We have no option but to work with the team we have.
"Of course we will miss Leander's experience in such a major event, but by making this a last-minute affair he has actually robbed a deserving player of an opportunity."
With Bopanna and Sharan opting to play alongside each other, captain Zeeshan Ali had to pair Paes with Nagal or Ramkumar Ramanathan.
Ramkumar is primarily a singles player, while Nagal is in poor form and has lost nine consecutive first-round matches on the International Tennis Federation Pro Circuit.
Paes has asked for the reason why the AITA did not select two specialist doubles teams.
"Ramkumar Ramanathan is a very good player, and I would love to play doubles with him," he said in the statement sent to PTI.
"But, considering that he has a golden chance to win the singles medal, it is not fair to distract him from his best event."
Paes has eight Asian Games medals to his name, including five golds, and was set to return to the continental event after missing the 2010 and 2014 editions in Guangzhou and Incheon respectively.
He is joined in withdrawing from the Games by Chinese sprinter Xie Zhenye, who has pulled out due to an injury to his right ankle.
The 24-year-old picked up the injury during last month’s International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League event in London, where he stumbled and nearly fell over in a baton pass.
He had been due to contest the 100, 200 and 4x100 metres events at the 2018 Asian Games, which are officially scheduled to begin tomorrow with the Opening Ceremony.
"A re-examination of my ankle yesterday does not say well," Xie, part of China’s gold medal-winning 4x100m relay team at Incheon 2014, wrote on his social media account.
"After a serious discussion, my team and I decided that it would be better for me to withdraw from the Jakarta Asian Games for long-term goods.
"I'd like to say sorry to the fans who support me all the time.
"Sorry to let you down."
Another withdrawal from the Games is the head coach of Japan’s national swimming team, Norimasa Hirai, who has been diagnosed with acute appendicitis
In the 55-year-old’s absence, SwimSwam reports that Waseda University head coach Keisuke Okuno is now in charge of the team.
Okuno helped guide Masato Sakai to the Olympic silver medal in the men’s 200m butterfly at Rio 2016 and was also the coach of Ippei Watanabe when he broke the men’s 200m breaststroke world record in January last year.