India’s Davis Cup team, which has been drawn to play an away Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 tie against Pakistan in mid-September, will in all likelihood be allowed to travel to the neighbouring nation by the Indian authorities, sources said. The government has no intention of throwing a spanner in the All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) plans to make its Davis Cup team members travel to Pakistan in their bid to re-enter the World Group qualifiers. India slipped back to the Group 1 of the Asia-Oceania Zone following their disappointing loss to Italy in the World Group qualifiers recently in Kolkata.
It’s an important tie for India since we are expected to comfortably beat the Pakistani side to qualify for the World Group. Otherwise, a no-show would mean the ITF imposing a heavy fine or sanctioning India from competing in a few ITF events. It would also mean India would have to fight it out in the lower group of the Asia-Oceania Zone,” a government source said. Sources said the government doesn’t see any problem in the Davis Cup team making a short trip to Pakistan (matches are now played over two days as per the shortened Davis Cup format) since tennis may not attract the same political and public attention generally reserved for high-profile team sports like cricket and hockey.
Moreover, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has awarded the hosting rights to Pakistan only after conducting a thorough security review of the possible venues in Pakistan. Also, since 2017, Pakistan has hosted Iran, Thailand, South Korea and Uzbekistan for Davis Cup ties under tight security cover and the ITF sees no threat for the Indians. “We are waiting for the AITA to submit a proposal. Once that comes to us, we will examine it and send it to the ministry of external affairs (MEA) for examining it. The MEA will have to look at it both from the political and security part. If they are OK with it, the sports ministry too will clear it. In case they have an objection, the ministry would explain to them the repercussions of not sending the team to Pakistan since it’s the equivalent of a World Cup tie in tennis and not a bilateral engagement. Nonetheless, the final call will be that of the sports ministry and, at this stage, we don’t see any problem. However, in case there’s a war or a terrorist attack in future, then that’s a different issue,” the source added.