Amid the brewing controversy surrounding the India-Pakistan Davis Cup tie, All India Tennis Association (AITA) CEO Bishwadeep on Thursday, in a media briefing, spoke about the committee's 3-month long persuasion to shift the tie to neutral venue. Bishwadeep said that the ITF's decision of re-scheduling the tie to a neutral venue came after 3 months of sustained and persistent efforts of the AITA. Earlier, on Monday, ace tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi was replaced by Rohit Rajpal as the non-playing captain of the team. This comes after the ITF had announced to shift the tie to a neutral venue.
In a press briefing on Thursday, the AITA CEO said, "We wish to inform you that the final decision that came on the night of November 4 regarding the change of venue was a result of 3 months of sustained and persistent efforts of the AITA. It was a victory of soft diplomacy and quiet persistence of the AITA and at no point has the AITA stand been across purposes with those of the players. AITA has been working relentlessly behind the scenes for getting a change of venue, however, for 3 months, there was never an intimation from ITF that it could agree to a change in venue. All security arrangements were shared with us as early as August 14 by the ITF and ITF, on the contrary, had been constantly pushing AITA to finalise the team and the arrangements to visit Pakistan."
Chatterjee added that AITA was constantly updating ITF with the current scenario between India and Pakistan soon after the Indian government abrogated Article 370 applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. Chatterjee also said that the AITA had been persuading ITF to postpone the tie or consider a change of venue. "As you are aware that the tie between India and Pakistan was originally scheduled to be played in Islamabad on September 13 and 14 and all the preparations had been made for our team to travel. Unfortunately due to the developments post-August 5, the situation became difficult and there were security concerns raised by players as well as the AITA. The AITA submitted a detailed dossier where it kept on urging the ITF to consider a change of venue or at least postpone the tie. Finally, after a lot of efforts on August 22 the decision was made to postpone the tie to November. Over the period of the last three months, there have been many letters and detailed correspondence through the AITA to the ITF. However, in any of these talks, no indication was given that the venue might be changed. That is as far as our stand with ITF is concerned," AITA CEO said in the press briefing.
The ITF issued the following statement regarding Pakistan's Asia/Oceania Group I tie against India scheduled for next month: “Following an in-depth security review of the current situation in Pakistan by independent expert security advisors, the Davis Cup Committee has taken the decision to postpone the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie between Pakistan and India in Islamabad, due to be played on 14-15 September. The Committee concluded that this is an exceptional circumstance while the first priority of the ITF is the safety and security of athletes, officials, and spectators. The tie has been rescheduled for November, with the exact dates to be confirmed by the Committee no later than 9 September. The ITF will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan and the Davis Cup Committee will re-convene to re-examine the security situation in advance of the tie."