TEL AVIV (Mar. 23)
The Indian government, reversing an earlier decision, announced Wednesday it will not send its Davis Cup tennis team to play in Israel next month, even though it means India will be barred from the Davis Cup matches next year.
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi told the Parliament in New Delhi that the Indian team will not be allowed to play the Israelis in the qualifying matches, due to be held in the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center from April 7 to 9, because of Israel’s “atrocities against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”
The International Tennis Federation informed India that as a result, it will be disqualified from the 1989 Davis Cup matches.
In Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry expressed regret at the Indian decision and denounced mixing politics with sports.
It was announced here March 17 that India had agreed to the matches in Israel after Israel, backed by the Tennis Federation, refused a “neutral venue.” The Indian team, headed by Vijay Amritraj, was due in Tel Aviv on April 1.
Israel and India met in last year’s Davis Cup matches played in India, but only after the Delhi government succumbed to international pressure and withdrew its threat to deny visas to the Israeli players.