The International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Wednesday rejected the All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) plea to either shift India’s upcoming Davis Cup tie in Pakistan to a neutral venue, or to delay it by two months. Instead, the world body asserted its satisfaction with the security arrangements the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has made for the contest scheduled in Islamabad next month.
“The ITF is simply not listening to us,” says AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee. “What they have done is share the details of the security arrangements that will be there in Pakistan. Basically, the Indian team’s movement from the airport to the hotel, to the venue and back.
“The ITF feels that the arrangements made do not warrant the tie to be shifted to a neutral venue,” Chatterjee adds.
On Tuesday, AITA had written to ITF arguing that the breakdown in political ties between the two neighbours has made it unsafe for the Indian team to travel across the border. The AITA listed eight reasons for the ITF to consider in the letter – citing the “downgraded diplomatic relations,” railway and road links being severed between the two countries along with Pakistan shutting off its air space to Indian planes, no Indian Ambassador in Pakistan anymore, and an “undercurrent of tension in Pakistan.”
The ITF, in turn, has granted AITA a telephonic meeting with its security advisors on Monday. “We will explain to them our view and decide if we want to push for another venue,” Chatterjee says. “We are also going to involve our Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi for the meeting. He’s already listing what he wants to say.”
Bhupathi, on behalf of the players, had written to AITA asking the Indian federation to push the ITF to move the tie to a neutral venue after political ties between the two countries worsened over the Kashmir issue.
ITF, though, has asserted that the organisers in Pakistan have passed all security checks the world body had put in place for a Davis Cup tie, and refused to move the tie to a neutral venue.
“The entire security arrangement is in the hands of the Pakistan government,” Chatterjee says. “We are at their mercy. It’ll take only one phone call for all those security arrangements to be cancelled. The relations between the two countries are not healthy. Nobody, in any sport right now, would be safe to travel there.”
The AITA had also written to the ITF citing a precedent of postponing a Davis Cup tie. In September 2001, India was scheduled to compete against the United States in North Carolina, just after the 9/11 attacks. The ITF subsequently delayed the tie by a month.
“Indian Team was already in USA (when) the unfortunate incident of 9/11 took place. Although there was no further security threat in USA or at North Carolina where the Davis Cup tie was to be held, it was decided by the ITF considering the overall mood in USA that it will not be appropriate to go ahead with the tie. ITF postponed the Davis Cup tie between India and USA even though there was no further security threat,” Chatterjee wrote.
“In view of the current situation ITF should follow the example it had set up in the tie between India and USA and postpone this particular Davis Cup Tie for two months by which time the matters would have stabilised and the atmosphere will be conducive for holding a friendly tie.”