With just over three weeks to go for India’s Davis Cup tie in Pakistan, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has taken a decision to postpone the tie by two months. On Wednesday, the ITF’s Davis Cup Committee met in London to find a solution for the match-up, scheduled to be held in Islamabad, at a time when political relations between the two countries have been downgraded over the Jammu and Kashmir issue. Eventually the committee decided to delay the tie till November.
“Following an in-depth security review of the current situation in Pakistan by independent expert security advisors, the Davis Cup Committee has taken the decision to postpone the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie between Pakistan and India in Islamabad, due to be played on 14-15 September,” the ITF said in a statement.
“The Committee concluded that this is an exceptional circumstance while the first priority of the ITF is the safety and security of athletes, officials and spectators. The tie has been rescheduled for November, with the exact dates to be confirmed by the Committee no later than 9 September. The ITF will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan and the Davis Cup Committee will re-convene to re-examine the security situation in advance of the tie.”
The decision comes just a week after the ITF rejected the All India Tennis Associations’ (AITA) proposal for the tie to either be shifted to a neutral venue or played at a later date.
“We are happy good sense prevailed and that this decision was made,” AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee said. “We will continue to watch the situation between the two countries and hopefully it will be fine in November. At the moment, it’s not conducive to play the tie.”
The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) meanwhile has asserted its disappointment, but has accepted the ITF’s decision.
“We still feel that we should have played. While things are bad, no doubt, at the line of control, Islamabad is still a safe city,” PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan said to The Indian Express. “I think the Davis Cup committee, they are all very seasoned officials. They asked me, and the AITA also agreed to postponement, so we agreed to that. Hopefully things will improve and we can play in November.”
In the past few week, the AITA had been lobbying hard for a shift in venue or postponement of the tie. The team’s Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi too, on behalf of the players, had penned a letter to the AITA making clear the team’s reservations about travelling to Pakistan at a time when tensions are high between the two countries.
“We are happy and we are hopeful the situation will normalise by (November),” Bhupathi said about the ITF’s decision.
This isn’t the first time the Indian team has been involved in a Davis Cup tie that has been postponed. Back in September 2011, the Indian team was set to compete in the United States, but following the September 11 Attacks, the ITF decided to delay the tie by a month.
In the current situation, the ITF has continued to maintain that the security arrangements provided by the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) fulfil the international body’s checks. However, the tensions between the countries prompted the change in schedule.