India’s national tennis federation on Monday decided against seeking a change of venue for the Davis Cup tie versus Pakistan in Islamabad but requested the world body ITF to conduct another security check there in view of the fresh diplomatic tension.
India’s participation in the Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie, scheduled on September 14 and 15, is uncertain owing to high political tension with Pakistan.
Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with India after provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, were done away with and the state was turned into a Union Territory.
“We are aware that you had done a safety check before the diplomatic ties have been downgraded. ITF (International Tennis Federation) may find it appropriate to do another check to its own satisfaction to ensure the safety of all the stakeholders connected with the tie,” All India Tennis Association (AITA) Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee wrote in a mail addressed to ITF Executive Director Justine Albert.
Chatterjee had earlier stated that the AITA might seek a change of venue given the political tension because of which the bus and train services between the two countries stand suspended right now.
“AITA is, therefore, waiting for your (ITF) final certificate confirming the safety of all the stakeholders and the details of the security plan prepared from the arrival of the team to its departure so that we can start applying for visas for travelling to Pakistan and to make necessary travel arrangements,” he said in the latest letter.
The AITA said it would go by the directives of the ITF.
“In case ITF in consultation with PTF (Pakistan Tennis Federation) is not 100 percent sure about the safety of the stakeholders, ITF may advise us the future course of action and AITA will respectfully follow the decision of the ITF,” he added.
The letter comes on a day when Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju made it clear that the government will not have a say in the matter as Davis Cup is not a bilateral engagement.
“If it is a bilateral sporting event, then whether India will play with Pakistan becomes a political decision. But Davis Cup is not bilateral and is organised by a world sporting body,” Rijiju said.
Albert had written to Chatterjee last week, saying that India should go ahead with its visa applications for the tie despite “some recent developments in political and diplomatic relations between the two nations”.
“...we are aware of the situation and are monitoring it. I agree that the safety of the players, officials and all stakeholders linked to the tie is the first priority for the ITF and all of us,” Albert’s mail stated.
“However, I must stress that the overall security risk rating in Pakistan remains the same which means that as of today, the tie will take place in Islamabad as planned,” it added.
Albert had told the AITA to approach the ITF with any concerns related to the tie as soon as possible.
“...this is your right to do so and I urge you to do so in a timely manner, taking into consideration the fact that the tie is scheduled to take place in five weeks.
“In the meantime, I do urge you to continue with the necessary preparations to obtain your visas...,” he had said.
No Indian Davis Cup team has travelled to Pakistan since 1964 and bilateral cricket ties between the two countries have been dormant since the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.
Since 2017, Pakistan have played four of their five home ties in Islamabad, hosting Korea, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Iran. Hong Kong had refused to travel to Pakistan in 2017, giving them a walkover.
The last time Pakistan played on a neutral venue was when it hosted China in Colombo in 2016.