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Play to stay united

As achievers on the international scene, it is easy for prominent sportsmen to choose to live wherever they want across the globe. It is a mistake to equate India with other trouble spots in the sub-continent. And citing the shifting of the IPL to claim that India is unsafe at large for any kind of sporting event is ludicrous, writes Leander Paes.

sports Updated: Apr 25, 2009 23:08 IST
Leander Paes

As achievers on the international scene, it is easy for prominent sportsmen to choose to live wherever they want across the globe.

Yet I stay in Mumbai, not out of necessity but choice, for I know that India is not only a safe place for a Davis Cup tie, but it is a country that I feel is safe enough to raise my family.

It is a mistake to equate India with other trouble spots in the sub-continent. And citing the shifting of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to claim that India is unsafe at large for any kind of sporting event is ludicrous.

It is a very poor yardstick for Tennis Australia to use as justification for withdrawing from the tie. The IPL, with its huge logistics, is far removed from the security needs of a Davis Cup tie, which revolves around one stadium and one official hotel.

Australia's stand is especially disappointing after both the International Tennis federation (ITF) and the state machinery of Tamil Nadu had assured it of blanket security. The safe conduct of the Chennai Open, just over a month after the Mumbai attacks, had proved to the tennis world that India stays safe to stage big-time tennis.

In my interactions with Australian players and support staff on the ATP Tour I had been apprised of their concerns in the wake of the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

However, I had assured them that India is different and I thought that after the initial reaction, the Australian contingent would have revised its stand with the passage of time.

Even as I write this, there is an ITF Futures event taking place in Delhi that players from across the world (South Africa, Czech Republic, Belgium, USA, Montenegro, Israel, Thailand, Japan, Great Britain) have thought safe enough to participate in.

I would urge Tennis Australia to reconsider its stand. Terrorism is a global menace and sport can only hope to fight it if we stay united.