The Myanmar Government has decided to move away from the country the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group IV and Group III events slated to be held in Yangon from April 22 to May 5 over heightened security concerns for teams, officials and fans.
The decision followed a review of the overall security situation in Myanmar following communal unrest in recent weeks.
The threat levels for terrorism, crime and social unrest deemed low earlier this month has now been taken as too high in the estimation of the Government to pull out.
Yangon hosted a controversial Asia Oceania Group II tie between Pakistan and New Zealand on the grass court of the Pun Hlaing Golf & Country Club, which was cut short after the first day’s play on April 5 when referees deemed the surface unplayable.
New Zealand, being the away side, were awarded the victory despite home side Pakistan winning the only rubber. Pakistan are currently appealing to the International Tennis Federation to restart the tie.
The ITF is now on the look out for an alternate venue to stage both the Group III and IV cycles.
The news of the cancellation sent shockwaves in countries where preparations had been in full swing.
Almost all contenders in Group IV looking ahead to their April 22-29 event and the eight, including Cambodia, involved in Group III from April 29 to May 5 had already completed travel and accommodation arrangements and had poured in hours of training for more than a month.
Sources familiar with this latest development told the Post yesterday that it may take weeks if not months for these two events to be rescheduled, even as the ITF is vigorously pursuing its bid to find a new host.
“It is a shattering blow for us,” Tennis Federation of Cambodia Secretary-General Tep Rithivit told the Post yesterday. “We come back from a joyous Khmer New Year break and what we get is this terrible news.
“We have done all our travel arrangements. The squad has been training hard for well over a month and two of our players have flown in from the United States on their own to join the team.
“It is an anti-climax we could hardly imagine,” added the secretary, who is also the non-playing captain of the Davis Cup team.
Brothers Mam Phalkun and Mam Panhara both pursue their careers in the United States, but reached Phnom Penh earlier this month to join the training camp under national head coach Braen Aneiros.
Following this dramatic turn of events and uncertainty over the timeline, the Mam brothers will have to switch their thoughts from tennis to a speedy return home.
“It is a wild guess as to when and where these events are going to take place. The players’ minds were tuned to competition next week and they are simply shattered,” said Rithivit. “I do understand the security concerns of the hosts but this last minute cancellation is devastating for all, and that includes our sponsors, NagaWorld.”
A joint press conference involving the Tennis Federation and NagaWorld scheduled for yesterday evening was cancelled.
Additional reporting by Dan Riley