India has lost out on the right to host the junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup due to the closure of Pakistan's air space in the aftermath of the Balakot air strikes, reports The Hindu, quoting a source from the national federation who is privy to the developments.
Including the Pakistani contingent, a total of 16 Davis Cup teams from across the globe were slated to travel to India to participate in the annual U-16 tournament which is often dubbed as the World Cup of the sport. The junior Davis Cup was to be held at the DLTA complex in Delhi from April 8-13 while the Fed cup matches were scheduled from April 15-20.
"Pakistan's air space was locked down at that time and airports (in India) were also on high alert. No one knew for how long the uncertain situation will prevail. So, a consensus emerged that it's best to shift the venue and India could host tournaments in future," a highly-placed source was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
The source said logistics became a big issue for almost all the participating countries.
"Since the air space was locked, the flights had to take a detour, which meant increase in cost and more travel time. For instance, Kazakhstan would have taken three-four extra hours to reach New Delhi in the prevailing situation."
"So there was a discussion among the International Tennis Federation (ITF), hosts All India Tennis Association (AITA), Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) and a few other stakeholders and it was decided that for the time being, it was prudent to shift the venue. It's not that India is not a secure place but due to the uncertainty caused by the tension between the two neighbours, everyone felt that it's a fair call to take the tournament somewhere else," said the source, privy to the developments.
Both the tournaments have been shifted to Bangkok, Thailand and according to another source, who claimed anonymity, this shift has saved India of a potentially sticky situation as there would be a big problem granting visas to the travelling Pakistani contingent.
"If the venue was not changed, AITA had to ensure that Pakistan athletes are provided visas. And in prevailing situation, no one can give that guarantee. So it's wise decision by AITA to agree to the arrangement," the official said.
When the ITF was approached for a comment, an official said, "I would like to inform you that the host nation decided to change the official venue to Bangkok. We were contacted by the ATF of (sic) the venue change for the Asia/Oceania final qualifying event."
Commenting on the situation, the Secretary-General of All India Tennis Association Hironmoy Chatterjee claimed that AITA failed to raise funds for the tournament which is why it was shifted to Bangkok.
"Raising funds for tennis tournaments is very difficult in this country. We had recently hosted the Davis Cup in Kolkata and now we are short of funds. The government also does not help so we informed the ITF that we can't host it," Mr Chatterjee said.
The Pulwama terror attack which occurred on February 14 has caused massive political tension between India and Pakistan. The tragic incident was carried out by Pakistani-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed and claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans.