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ITF unmoved by AITA’s request to postpone or shift Ind-Pak Davis Cup tie

The International Tennis Federation appears to be in no mood to consider the All India Tennis Association’s request for a postponement or a change of venue for next month’s India-Pakistan Davis Cup tie.

In its communication to the AITA on Wednesday, the ITF has elaborated on the security measures in place in Islamabad for the September 14-15 tie hinting that there is no reason to reschedule the tie. “They’ve offered us details of transfers to and from the airport and hotel and an assurance that a patrol vehicle will accompany the team at all times,” says AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee, “But the situation is deeper and graver than that. We will try to explain the scenario to them and convince them to consider our request.”

The AITA will have a teleconference discussion with the ITF security advisors and executives on August 19. Mahesh Bhupathi will also be part of the call, representing the players’ voice. If the ITF remains unmoved, the AITA will have to take call on the Indian team’s participation.

Prior to this, over a series of email exchanges on Tuesday and Wednesday, AITA had expressly requested the ITF’s board of directors to consider either of two options with regard to the tie – Postpone to November/December this year or “suo moto” shift it to a neutral venue at the world body’s own cost.

The AITA, had in its letter dated August 14, stated, “Whether or not there is a security threat in Islamabad, the moods of the two nations are deeply affected and there is an undercurrent of tension which is perhaps not being taken into account by the Security Agency of ITF in their assessment. In view of the current situation ITF should follow the example it had set up in the tie between India and USA and postpone this particular Davis Cup tie for two months by which time matters would have stabilized and the atmosphere will be conducive for holding a friendly tie”.

The India-USA tie scheduled for September 21-23, 2001 at North Carolina, USA had been postponed following the terror attacks earlier that month. AITA had explained in its letter: “The Indian Team was already in USA when the unfortunate incident of 9/11 took place. Although there was no further security threat in USA or at North Carolina where the Davis Cup tie was to be held, it was decided by the ITF considering the overall mood that it will not be appropriate to go ahead with the tie”.

Earlier, on Tuesday, the ITF had sought an official request from the AITA for shifting the tie to a neutral venue along with supporting reasons for the same so that it could be forwarded to the Davis Cup Committee. In response, AITA listed an eight-point rationale: downgrading of diplomatic ties between both countries, no ambassador in Islamabad after the Indian envoy was sent back, train service suspended, bus service halted, air space shut off for Indian planes, unfavourable Pakistan media, undercurrent of tension in Pakistan and the possibility of a conflict between both nations.

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