Time to go neutral

Updated: Aug 10, 2019, 10:23 IST | PTI

AITA likely to request world tennis body ITF to shift Pakistan fixture out of Islamabad over security fears

India's Divij Sharan (left) and Rohan Bopanna during their Davis Cup tie against Italy last February. Pic/AFP
India's Divij Sharan (left) and Rohan Bopanna during their Davis Cup tie against Italy last February. Pic/AFP

New Delhi: Amid rising tensions with Pakistan, India's national tennis association is likely to approach the International Tennis Federation, seeking a neutral venue for next month's Davis Cup tie in Islamabad and the host federation says it will abide by the ITF's ruling. India's two-day tie against Pakistan is scheduled to begin in the Pakistan capital on September 14.

The Indian government revoked provisions of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, taking away the state's special status and in retaliation Pakistan on Wednesday downgraded diplomatic ties with India. Pakistan yesterday stopped the Samjhauta Express at the Wagah border citing security concerns, following which an Indian crew escorted the train to Attari on the Indian side.

AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI that in the current scenario, security of the Indian contingent remains a major concern and they are contemplating approaching ITF to provide a neutral venue for the tie.

'Too early to say'
"It might affect the Davis Cup tie. It's too early to say, but what I intend to do is to wait for one or two days to see what turn the situation takes. Then we will ask ITF [International Tennis Federation] to look into the situation and take a call. And if required, consider a neutral venue," Chatterjee said.

"If they [Pakistan] don't issue visas, how do we go to Pakistan? They might not issue the visas. And if they give visas, will they be able to give us proper security so that we feel comfortable?" he elaborated on the many predicaments that AITA is dealing with right now.

Pakistan Tennis Federation President Salim Saifullah Khan admitted that tension has escalated and said that the PTF will follow whatever the ITF suggests. "Islamabad is still safe. The tension has definitely escalated, but it can de-escalate as well. For us also safety and security of the players is paramount. Winning or losing does not matter, safety is most important," Salim told PTI.

Ball in ITF's court
"It's too early to say that it's time to shift the tie to a neutral venue. But if ITF feels that it is better to shift the tie, we have to follow the instruction of the parent body. But as of now I don't see any reason to shift the venue," he added. 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.

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