In recent developments, the International Tennis Federation’s independent security advisors have advised for India’s Davis Cup tie against Pakistan at Islamabad this month to be played at a neutral venue. This decision by the International Tennis body comes in the wake of security concerns raised by All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) earlier this year which had requested the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to move the tie in the Asia-Oceania group, of the Davis cup from Islamabad to a neutral venue. India was scheduled to face Pakistan in an away September 14-15 tie in Islamabad, however, was postponed by the ITF to Nov. 29-30 following a security review amid political tensions between the bitter neighbours. Nonetheless, doubts had persisted given the security record of Pakistan. Moreover with rising tensions between India and Pakistan post-legislative developments in Jammu and Kashmir, ensuring the safety of Indian players would surely have been a mammoth task for the Pakistani administration.
“Following a review of the latest advice given by the ITF’s independent security advisors, the Davis Cup Committee has taken the decision that the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie between Pakistan and India on 29-30 November 2019, must be played at a neutral venue. …As per the Davis Cup Regulations, the Pakistan Tennis Federation now has the choice to nominate a neutral venue and has five working days to confirm their proposed venue,” the ITF said in a statement.
“We are very happy and welcome the ITF decision about the venue change,” AITA General Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee told Reuters by phone. “We will wait for the PTF to choose the venue and then name our team.”
The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) however has taken a different stand and too has written to the ITF this week, asserting the Indians had ‘no intention’ of travelling to Pakistan for the two-day tie. The PTF President has also reiterated that the Pakistani government has ‘guaranteed’ the security of the Indian contingent; However, the ITF or the AITA seems to be unimpressed. Earlier ITF had banned Davis Cup ties (from 2005 to 2017) from being hosted in Pakistan due to safety concerns, however, concerns of sporting bodies over the safety of players in Pakistan is not new. In 2009, 12 gunmen had attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lanka national cricket team. The cricketers were on their way to play the third day of the second Test against the Pakistani cricket team. Six members of the Sri Lanka national cricket team were wounded. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed.
This decision by ITF is now certainly a clear identification of Pakistan as an unsafe state given the terrorist organisations operating in the region and also a firm rebuttal to their meek claims of taking actions against terrorists in the state.
For India however, this decision certainly indicates its increasing hold on international dynamics. Earlier India had to miss out on the Davis cup’s finals in 1974 after the Indian Government had opposed India’s participation in the final of the Davis Cup in 1974 which featured South Africa. India refused to play South Africa in protest of the racist colonial rule prevailing in South Africa, then, on the other hand, India’s concerns were set aside and South Africa was declared the champion. In a similar case earlier including Hong Kong, ITF had imposed sanctions on the Hong Kong Tennis Association (HKTA) for withdrawing from a fixture of Davis Cup in Pakistan. Nonetheless, with this recent decision to move out the Davis cup tie out of Pakistan after India’s reservations, the international tennis body has certainly recognised both the rising hold of India on International dynamics and certainly the dangers posed to players while in Pakistan.