LONDON, August 12: Ongoing “political unrest” in Israel and Ukraine means neither country will be allowed to stage their respective Davis Cup World Group ties next month, world tennis’ governing body ruled on Tuesday. “It is always a very difficult decision for the ITF to take away choice of ground in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas,” said Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
“The competition was founded on the principles of better understanding among nations and we believe it has done a good job in fostering this over 114 years. “However, the safety of players, officials and spectators has to take priority and the Board believed that it was not prudent to hold ties in Ukraine or Israel because of political unrest in these countries at the present time and for the foreseeable future.”
The Israel Tennis Association had appealed a decision by the Davis Cup Committee last week that the country’s September 12-14 tie against Argentina be moved to a neutral venue because of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
“The Board agreed with the Davis Cup Committee that it was the ITF’s duty to ensure the safety of players, officials and spectators, and that there was a lack of certainty as to the security situation in Israel at the date of the tie,” the ITF said in a statement, with the Israelis having until Thursday to name a neutral venue.
“If Israel does not choose to play in a neutral venue, the Davis Cup Committee has the right to decide that the tie be held on a neutral ground or in Argentina.”
Turning to Ukraine, the ITF upheld the appeal of the Belgian Tennis Federation against the decision of the Davis Cup Committee to confirm Kiev as the venue for their tie on the same September weekend, meaning the match-up will no longer be played in Ukraine.
“The Board noted that the original decision by the Davis Cup Committee had not been unanimous; and that while the recent political unrest had occurred in eastern Ukraine, a disturbance in Kiev’s Independence Square as recently as last Thursday indicated that the security situation there was fluid,” the ITF said.
Ukraine now also has the option to nominate a neutral venue within five working days, or face the prospect of home advantage going Belgium’s way.