India’s participation in the Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 Davis Cup tie is in jeopardy with players expressing security concerns and asking for the venue to be shifted out of Pakistan. The India-Pakistan tie, scheduled for September 14 and 15, was cleared by the ITF despite India’s concerns.
With heightened diplomatic tension since the government’s move to demolish Article 370 and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories, the All India Tennis Federation (AITA) had asked the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to conduct a review of security for the tie.
“We are aware that you had done a safety check before the diplomatic ties have been downgraded. ITF may find it appropriate to do another check to its own satisfaction to ensure the safety of all the stakeholders connected with the tie,” AITA Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee said in a letter to ITF Executive Director Justine Albert.
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In response the ITF released a statement to Reuters which said, "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."
India last played a Davis Cup tie in Pakistan in 1964, beating the hosts 4-0.
The AITA, earlier, reached out to the Sports Ministry, seeking permission and advice on the procedure for the tie.
In response, sports minister Kiren Rijiju has clearly stated that the Ministry has no control over the situation, considering it is not a bilateral tie, and therefore out of their jurisdiction.
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The ITF’s response left the players disappointed and they have approached the national federation, asking them to request a neutral venue.
The AITA had already named a six person squad for the event under captain Mahesh Bhupathi, before the escalation which has seen the Indian ambassador expelled and all bilateral trade suspended. The squad includes the country’s highest ranked players Prajnesh Gunneswaram (90) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (184) who will play the four singles matches.
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