Mahesh Bhupathi, India's Davis Cup non-playing captain, has informed the All India Tennis Association that his team members do not wish to play the upcoming Davis Cup tie in Pakistan. Saying that the relation between the neighbouring countries is deteriorating on an “hourly basis”, he said that he was putting this on record on behalf of the entire Indian team and not individually. He said the International Tennis Federation’s security agency did not have a pulse on the tensions prevailing between India and Pakistan.
Following Bhupathi's mail, AITA has requested the ITF to postpone the tie or change the venue. The ITF has maintained that it was satisfied with the current security set-up in place for the Davis Cup tie between Pakistan and India on September 14-15 in Islamabad.
AITA secretary general Hiranmoy Chatterjee on Monday had written to the ITF informing it of deteriorating diplomatic relations between the neighbours and urged it to review the security again for the tie.
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In his letter addressed to Chatterjee, Bhupathi slammed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for comparing “our PM to Hitler”. The letter, a copy of which is with The WEEK, further added, “Just to put into perspective, the situation has been deteriorating on an hourly basis from Aug 5th so much so that this weekend the PM of Pakistan has gone on a tirade and compared our PM to Hitler. I am speaking on behalf of the team to officially put on record that most, if not all the boys on the team “DO NOT” want to go to Pakistan in these circumstances. We do not feel safe regardless of what a security agency hired by the ITF says and to be honest I don’t think any security agency has a pulse on India-Pakistan tensions.”
Bhupathi also urged the AITA to speak with Indian team members individually to ascertain his statement.
Bhupathi also expressed surprise that the AITA chose to ask the ITF for a security review instead of officially asking for a neutral venue. The AITA had said it would go ahead with the visa formalities for the tie if the clash was cleared by the ITF following a fresh security check.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had, on Monday, said that since the Asia Oceania Group 1 tie is not a bilateral series and the world body is involved in hosting the Davis Cup, the government can't interfere in the matter.
No Indian Davis Cup team has travelled to Pakistan since 1964 and bilateral cricket ties between the two countries have been dormant since the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.