CHENNAI: A day after All India Tennis Association (AITA) wrote to International Tennis Federation (ITF) asking for another ‘security review’ and not a change of venue thus drawing flak, the Indian body on Tuesday has decided to write to ITF again. This time they have requested for a change of venue or a possibility of postponing the tie.
The Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie between the two countries which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad on September 14 and 15 is under the radar since relations between both countries are currently strained following the revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation in Jammu & Kashmir.
“ITF is our parent body and every player’s safety is their concern too. So we had written to them yesterday asking them to check if there are any security concerns. But they wrote back saying that the parameters for security at the venue hasn’t changed and we have realised that the ITF are probably just looking at the security of the venue and not taking into consideration the political turmoil between the two countries,” AITA general secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee told TOI on Tuesday.
“The most important thing for us is the safety of our players and we understand that it is impossible to go to Pakistan and play under such circumstances. We have written a mail again today outlining the degrading diplomatic ties between the two countries. We have asked them to either change the venue or postpone the tie for a couple of months till the tension simmers down. We have also asked for a telephonic conversation with the ITF board to make our points clearer.”
If the tie is postponed, this will not be the first instance. After the terror attacks in USA in September 2001, the World Group Round 1 tie between India and USA, which was scheduled to take place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was pushed back to October from the original schedule of September. Similarly, USA’s World Group Round 1 tie against Mexico was rescheduled from February to March 1991 because of the Gulf War.
The ITF on Monday said that they are satisfied with their current security assessment of the site and the security plan in place.
“Safety and security are the ITF’s highest priority. We are working closely with the host nation and independent expert security advisors – the ITF is satisfied with their current security assessment of the site and the security plan in place. The overall security risk rating for Pakistan has not changed, however, we will continue to monitor the situation closely with our advisors,” they said in a statement to TOI.
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. But the final decision regarding the tie will be AITA’s since the government has made it clear that it will stay away from any sort of intervention given that it’s not a bilateral sporting engagement.