Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju on Monday said that the Government does not have any say on India’s participation in the Davis Cup tournament which is scheduled to be held in Pakistan next month. Rijiju added that since the tournament is not a bilateral competition, the Government cannot intervene.
Notably, there is no clarity regarding the participation of Indian athletes in Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 Davis Cup encounter scheduled to be played on 14 and 15 September in Islamabad owing to high political tension between India and Pakistan. Pakistan, who are the hosts of the event, have downgraded diplomatic ties with India after Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, under which Jammu and Kashmir was granted special status, was scrapped and a bill separating the state into two Union Territories was passed in the Parliament.
“If it is a bilateral sporting event, then whether India will play with Pakistan becomes a political decision. But Davis Cup is not bilateral and is organised by a world sporting body,” Rijiju said.
“Since India is a signatory to the Olympic charter. Therefore, the government of India or the national federation do not have a say on whether India will participate or not,” he added.
Although the tennis governing body in India, All India Tennis Association (AITA), will go ahead and ask for a change in venue, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has clearly refused to agree to any change as preparations for the event have already begun.
While seeking a request for a change in venue from the International Tennis Federation (ITF), AITA will cite diplomatic relations and security as reasons.
It is worth noting that no Indian team has gone to Pakistan to participate in Davis Cup since 1964 and even the bilateral cricketing relationship between the two countries had turned sour after the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
It remains to be seen whether there is any last-minute change in the venue, although it is likely that the proposed Davis Cup schedule will remain unchanged.