The Indian Davis Cup team wants the tie against Pakistan in Islamabad next month to be shifted to a neutral venue and is baffled that the national federation has merely asked for a security re-check so far.
“We have asked AITA to request for a neutral venue,” said India captain Mahesh Bhupathi. Another player, who did not wish to be named, said the team is ‘quite surprised’ with how AITA has dealt with the situation. The AITA said it would go ahead with the visa formalities for the tie if the September 14-15 clash is cleared by the ITF following a fresh security check.
A section within the AITA is also surprised that the Indian government is not ready to take a stand despite escalating tension between the two nations. Sports minister Kiren Rijijiu on Monday said that since the Asia Oceania Group 1 tie is not a bilateral series and the world body is involved in hosting of the Davis Cup, it can’t stop tennis players from travelling to Pakistan.
“We understand that the Olympic charter does not allow government interference but this is a question of lives of the players. The government always jumps in when Indian citizens are trapped abroad and tries to ensure their safe passage back to the country,” said an official on the condition of anonymity. “Are tennis players not citizens of India? How can the government risk their lives by not stopping them?” he asked.
The AITA is also being criticised for not seeking a neutral venue despite the prevailing circumstances. “It’s beyond understanding why AITA did not ask for a change in venue in clear terms? Why is it beating around the bush? Do players mean anything to it,” said another official.