Saar Steele and Goran Tosic come from countries where violence is almost part of everyday life, where conflict is a daily phenomenon and where sport is played against all the odds.
Steele, an Israeli, has lost many friends in the violence against Palestine, while Tosic, who is from Serbia, finds it hard to remember life without violence.
Both are in the Capital to participate in the $15,000 ITF Men’s Futures, and spoke to the Hindustan Times about what they thought of Tennis Australia’s reservations about traveling to Chennai to play the Davis Cup tie next month for ‘security concerns’.
“First and foremost, Tennis Australia’s decision not to come to India has to do a lot with politics. There is no doubt politics and sports is being mixed here,” said the 25-year-old Steele, who served the Israeli army for several years.
“What happened in Mumbai was very sad but then, which part of the world is not fighting terrorism? I have seen my loved ones die in bomb blasts. A bomb blast is an everyday happening for us. Is that unsafe or is a place like India unsafe?”
Steele went on to ridicule Tennis Australia’s decision to have the tie shifted or played at a neutral venue. “I am sure there will be a huge security cover. Even if it was a two-week event they shouldn’t have an issue at all. We as players must not get involved in this.”
“The problem is that people watch news and start jumping to conclusions. For me, and for all the foreign nationals playing here, India is safe.”
Tosic, meanwhile, felt Serbia was far more troubled a country than India at one point of time. “India is absolutely safe. The situation in Serbia was five times worse than India. I am coming here for the first time and neither me nor my family members had second thoughts about being here,” said Tosic, who now represents Montenegro. “Tennis Australia’s decision to not to travel here is really bad. I am sure politics have influenced their call.”