Pakistan denies shifting of Davis Cup tie with India to neutral venue

Pakistan Tennis Federation has ruled out shifting of Davis Cup tie against India to neutral a venue.

All India Tennis Federation wants the tie to be moved from Islamabad to a neutral venue. But the Pakistan Tennis Federation chief Saleem Saifullah has said that the federation was making all the preparations to host the tie at the Islamabad Sports Complex, the designated venue for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania  Group-1 tie scheduled for September 14 and 15.

“We are sticking to our original programme of hosting the tie on 14-15 September and I don’t see any problem or reason for the Indian team to feel unsafe to come to Islamabad,” Saifullah said.

The escalating tension between the two countries in the aftermath of Indian Government’s decision to scrap Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, has made the tie uncertain.

The All Indian Tennis Associaiton has said it will ask the International Tennis Federation to move the Davis Cup tie to a neutral venue.

But Saifullah said the Indian tennis team will be perfectly safe in Pakistan. “They will stay for four days in Islamabad which is a safe city. We have made top-level security arrangements for them at their hotel and at the venue. So what is the problem for them to play in Islamabad? If they want, we will not even have spectators for the tie,” he said.

Saifullah said the ITF has not yet contacted the PTF on shifting the tie to a neutral venue. He said the tie was very important for Pakistan in terms of promoting tennis in the country and earning revenues.

He said the PTF was in already in touch with concerned ministries to ensure the Davis Cup tie was held on schedule in Islamabad.

“As it is after a long time we have started hosting our Davis Cup ties at home,” the PTF chief noted.

The Indian tennis federation on Saturday confirmed that it will approach world governing body ITF, seeking a neutral venue for the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan, saying it’s not an “unreasonable request” considering the escalating tension between the two nations.

“We have assessed the situation and feel that the atmosphere is not conducive to play in Pakistan. We have decided to write to the ITF on Monday to provide a neutral venue for the tie,” AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee said.

“It’s now up to the ITF. They will put it before the Davis Cup committee but it’s likely that they will accept our request. We are not making an unreasonable request. It’s a genuine request. In current circumstances, it is not conducive to play there,” he said.