The All India Tennis Federation on Saturday announced a revamped domestic circuit to support the players who are struggling financially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AITA is aiming for a tentative launch of the circuit in July.

All sporting activities around the world have come to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic which has led to the death of more than 400 people in India and above 1.5 lakh worldwide.

“The Indian Tennis players and in fact the entire tennis ecosystem has been adversely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the indefinite cancellation (till July 13 for now) of all ATP and ITF competitions worldwide,” said the AITA in a statement.

“AITA therefore, based on the assumption that the complete National Lockdown may be lifted in the course of the next 2 months and that travel restrictions may be eased somewhat, plans to launch a Domestic circuit to start tentatively in July 2020.”

It said the need of the hour was to keep the tennis ecosystem alive in the coming months.

This was aimed at benefiting players across the country since the pandemic has adversely affected their livelihood as well as their overall training and preparedness.

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“AITA proposes to start Tournaments for all age groups. These will initially (in July and August) be restricted to State Level tournaments keeping in mind the need for restricting travel.

“It shall subsequently graduate into Zonal and National tournaments in September, October and November once the travel restrictions and social distancing norms are further eased,” it said.

While AITA is creating a reserve fund for the domestic circuit, it also wants the corporates to support the game.

“The AITA is in the process of setting up a sizeable fund out of its reserves to create a domestic circuit. The AITA is also approaching the Government of India, Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs to allow it to utilise the unutilised portion of its ACTC Budget 2019-2020 which was earmarked for Tournaments and Foreign Exposure up to September, 2020.”

“AITA shall also be launching a fresh initiative to approach Corporates to contribute to this fund that will be used for creating tournaments and competition opportunities for Indian players during the upcoming months while the Pro and ITF Circuits stay closed,” the statement added.

Removal of certain posts

AITA has also agreed to abolish honorary posts of Life President, Life Vice President and Life Counsellor on the direction of the Sports Ministry, which termed the creation of such posts as violation of the National Sports Code.

The decision means that senior sports administrator Anil Khanna and former external affairs ministers SM Krishna and Yashwant Sinha cannot remain with the federation as Life Presidents.

The ministry’s decision also affects eight people including former Davis Cup captains Jaideep Mukhejea and Naresh Kumar, who held the post of Life Vice President.

The six other Life Vice Presidents are DV Bhatia, Ghanshyam Patel, Narendra Kumar, Natwar Singh, Bollywood actor-turned politician Shatrughan Sinha and Yusuf Hamied.

TD Franics held the post of Life Counsellor.