Tennis federation to send security experts to Chennai (Lead)

March 26th, 2009 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup New Delhi/London, March 26 (IANS) The International Tennis Federation (ITF) Thursday asked its security advisers to visit Chennai and submit a report over the feasibility of holding the third-round Davis Cup tie between India and Australia there May 8-10.
Reacting to Tennis Australia’s (TA) request for a change of venue, raising security concerns, the ITF made it clear that there would be “no discussion of alternative venue until it had reviewed the advisers’ report, and until then, the match would take place in Chennai as scheduled”.

The ITF hopes to receive the report next week.

TA earlier confirmed it wanted the tie to be shifted out of the southern Indian metropolis after receiving advice from its security sources.

“We have received advice from our sources expressing security concerns on travel to India and so we have asked for shifting the venue,” TA chief executive Steve Wood said in a statement.

“The safety of our players and staff is of paramount importance to us.”

The All India Tennis Association (AITA), however, is confident of holding the tie in Chennai with all security measures in place.

“We have sent a reply to the ITF as to why the tie need not be shifted out, giving the reasons,” AITA executive director Ranbir Chauhan told IANS.

Chauhan said ITF had informed it of TA’s apprehension

“We have written to the ITF assuring fool-proof security for the Australian team and we are confident that the tie will be held in Chennai,” Chauhan said.

Chauhan, who was in Chennai last week to assess the security, said the host association has planned a whole lot of security exercises to satisfy the ITF as well as the Australians.

“Chennai is a safe place. I spoke to the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) and government officials when I was there and I am more than satisfied with the arrangements.”

“Our confidence stems from the fact that an ATP event was held there in January and it was a great success with all the top players of the world participating,” he said.

Asked about ITF sending its experts to assess the arrangements for the tie, Chauhan said: “There is no need for it, but if ITF still wants to send a team, they are most welcome.”

TNTA chief executive H.K. Joshi said there will be no cause for any worry on security.

“We have been assured by the Tamil Nadu government and police officials of tight security. It is the same venue where we successfully organised the ATP Chennai Open and the safety of players and officials is uppermost for us,” Joshi told IANS from Chennai.

Top Australian player Lleyton Hewitt had reportedly expressed security fears in travelling to India following the Mumbai terror strike and the audacious daylight attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

“We are all concerned about the security in the subcontinent after what happened to the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. Right now, safety is definitely an issue,” the former World No.1 was quoted as saying.

Asked if he would consider withdrawing from the tie, Hewitt said: “I have conveyed what I have to, to Tennis Australia and they have to speak on behalf of the players and the entire team. We have to trust Tennis Australia.”

The winner of the Asia-Oceania Group 1 tie will advance to the play-offs for a spot in the elite world group.

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