Australia will skip their Davis Cup tie against India in Chennai next month due to security concerns, Tennis Australia said on Saturday.
Australia were told by the International Tennis Federation on Friday that they must play their Davis Cup in India despite their objections.
Australia had appealed against the decision to play the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group I third round tie in Chennai from May 8-10, but the ITF said they were satisfied with the security conditions in the Indian city.
Australia now risks a one-year suspension from the competition.
“We asked for the tie to be moved because we have major security concerns for the players, particularly during the (Indian) election,” Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard said in a statement.
“The ITF decision has left us with no other option. We cannot send the team. It is extremely disappointing. It would be irresponsible of us to send our players into an area of such high risk.
“Davis Cup is very important to us but some things are more important than tennis,” Pollard said.
Security fears in South Asia have been running high since gunmen ambushed the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus in Pakistan in March, killing eight policemen and wounding seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach.
Shortly afterwards, Bangladesh postponed their home series against Pakistan and the organisers of the lucrative Indian Premier League decided to move it to South Africa.
Tennis Australia had pointed to the IPL decision, highlighting concerns that India’s security services were already stretched during the country’s election.
There were reports Saturday that Australia’s top two ranked players, Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione, had said they would not play in the Indian tie.
Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald said he was angry and upset with the ITF directive.
“It is just irresponsible. Surely some thought must be given to the players’ safety,” Fitzgerald said in the statement.
“I believe they say the election is not a cause for concern, the IPL moving is not relevant and that an ATP tournament held in January shows it is safe to play in Chennai.
He said that dozens of people had been killed during recent polling.
“A train was hijacked this week, but that does not alter their thoughts? Did the IPL move for no reason?” Fitzgerald said.
“This decision makes no sense. We have worked so hard to get back in to World Group contention, to have it snatched away like this is gut wrenching,” he said.
Fitzgerald said the players shared his disappointment.