The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has agreed to the All India Tennis Association's (AITA) request, rescheduling next month's India-Pakistan Davis Cup tie to November this year.
The decision came after ITF referred the matter to the Davis Cup Committee earlier this week and was followed by an "in-depth security review" of the current situation in Pakistan by independent security advisors.
"This is an exceptional circumstance. The first priority of the Committee is the safety and security of athletes, officials and spectators," the Committee said.
"It's a decision well taken," AITA secretary Hiranmoy Chatterjee told ESPN. "We had a strong case to request for a postponement and were confident all along that the ITF will see the merit in it sooner or later. They also agreed that the postponement will not upset the draw in any manner. Now, we're hopeful that things will improve over the next two months and we can travel to Pakistan in November."
India had named a full-strength squad for the Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 tie scheduled to be held in Islamabad on September 14-15 before diplomatic relations between both countries hit a downward spiral. It was prompted by the scrapping of Article 370, which revoked Kashmir's special status following which tensions mounted, suspending trade and travel between the nations and the Indian envoy to Pakistan being sent back.
AITA had written to the ITF on August 14 seeking either a postponement of the tie to November/December this year or a neutral venue. The ITF had initially dismissed both demands, instead suggesting that security arrangements in Pakistan were satisfactory and hence did not warrant a change of plan. Over the past week, AITA has been in constant touch with the ITF, emailing a steady stream of newspaper clippings and keeping the body posted on the tense sub-continent scenario. The tele-con between both bodies was to take place on Monday but was later pushed back by a day and was cancelled again a second time with the ITF choosing to refer the decision to the Davis Cup Committee.
A postponement is totally in keeping with the letter of the law and India was part of a similar scenario when their September 21-23 tie against USA in 2001 was postponed following the 9/11 terror attacks.
According to rule 230.2.5 of Davis Cup regulations, "A nation with choice of ground may lose its choice at any time if the Davis Cup Committee considers that it is not possible or practicable for the opposing nation to reach or play at the venue chosen for the tie, due to war, political unrest, terrorism or natural disaster."
AITA was banking on the 'political unrest' clause in the rule to have its way. The Indian federation believed that its case was also bolstered after thousands of protestors gathered outside the Indian High Commission in London (where ITF is headquartered) on August 15 (Indian Independence Day), waving Pakistani and Kashmiri flags against the decision to revoke Kashmir's special status.
The fresh dates of the tie will be now decided no later than September 9 and the ITF will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan. The Davis Cup Committee will re-convene to examine the security scenario again ahead of the tie.