TT departure nightmare: Flight provided, plans grounded

The ITTF World Tour Platinum Australian Open is the Indian table tennis contingent’s final event before the Asian Games.

Published: 23rd July 2018 02:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2018 07:06 AM   |  A+A-

Coach Massimo Costantini (C), Harmeet Desai (R), Manika Batra, Mouma Das, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Madhurika Patkar and physio Amarjit Singh took a late flight

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The ITTF World Tour Platinum Australian Open is the Indian table tennis contingent’s final event before the Asian Games. After the Commonwealth Games high, expectations are high from coach Massimo Costantini’s wards. The Italian was seeing this event as the one where the entire squad comes together so that he could see where each of them stand.

A 17-member squad, including coaches, support staff and officials reached New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Sunday but things did not go as planned. Air India’s Flight AI 308 at 12.15pm was overbooked by 30 seats. After a lot of confusion, 10 members boarded the direct flight to Melbourne while seven, including Massimo and multiple CWG gold winner Manika Batra, had to stay back.

The reason why Manika took to Twitter was that their plan went up in smoke. The flight booking was made to ensure maximum rest for the players and time to inspect the venue and get some practice. A few paddlers, including Manika, had reached Delhi on Saturday night after playing at the Korea Open.

The solution AI gave the disgruntled members was that they would book them on the earliest flight available on Monday. With the event starting early on Tuesday, they would have reached the city just in time to see other paddlers kick start proceedings.

After Manika’s tweet, SAI DG Neelam Kapur replied saying she would sort out the matter. The sports ministry’s intervention ensured the athletes left at 10.45pm on Sunday. However, the flight is not a direct one. They will reach late on Monday night.

She tweeted that this happened because the paddlers had reached at 10.30 for the 12.40 flight, instead of three hours before departure. But aviation rules state boarding gates close one hour prior to departure, so arrival was not an issue.


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