By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) – The All India Tennis Association (AITA) is hopeful its security concerns for next month’s tie against hosts Pakistan will be addressed after the game’s global governing body referred the matter to its Davis Cup committee.
The AITA said last week they had written to International Tennis Federation (ITF) asking them to shift the tie to a neutral venue or to postpone it for a couple of months until tensions simmer down between the bitter neighbours.
The national body was scheduled to discuss its concerns on Monday with security advisers from the ITF over the Sept 14-15 tie scheduled in Islamabad between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.
The call was, however, cancelled and instead the ITF said the Davis Cup committee, comprising eight members and chaired by Egypt’s Ismal El Shafei, will deliberate on the matter on Wednesday.
AITA General Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee said a “positive” decision was expected by Thursday.
“The committee members are from different parts of the world so they will set up a appropriate time today that suits everyone. Then they will inform us of their decision,” Chatterjee told Reuters on Wednesday.
“It’s a positive, yes. If there was no merit why will the committee discuss. We have given them more than enough.”
Earlier this month, Pakistan expelled India’s ambassador and suspended bilateral trade and all public transport links with its neighbour after New Delhi removed “special status” from its portion of the contested region of Kashmir.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power Great Britain in 1947. They came close to a third in February after a deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in air strikes by both countries.
The AITA has named a six-member squad under captain Mahesh Bhupathi for the Sept. 14-15 tie but India’s players sought safety guarantees from the ITF before travelling to Islamabad.
The ITF shared security arrangements for the Indian team in Islamabad with the AITA and said they were satisfied with the safety plan.
An Indian tennis team last went to Pakistan in 1964 for a Davis Cup tie, defeating the hosts 4-0, while Pakistan lost 3-2 on their last visit to India in 2006.
Pakistan was forced to host Davis Cup ties at neutral venues for more than a decade as teams refused to travel to the country because of security concerns.
They played their first home tie after a gap of 12 years against Iran in 2017, while Hong Kong was relegated and fined by the ITF after they refused to travel to Pakistan the same year.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)