ITF rules out Israel as Davis Cup venue
LONDON -- Israel's Davis Cup match against Argentina next month is being moved out of the country because of the conflict in Gaza.
The Sept. 12-14 World Group playoff will not go ahead as scheduled in Tel Aviv ''due to concerns arising from the military conflict between Israel and Hamas,'' the International Tennis Federation said Thursday.
The ITF said the match will be moved to a neutral venue outside Israel or to Argentina.
The ITF's Davis Cup Committee made the decision after a risk assessment of the situation in Israel and Gaza.
''The committee determined that, while the military conflict seemed to be slowing down, there was no certainty that this would be the case at the time of the tie that is due to take place in five weeks,'' the ITF said in a statement.
''The committee felt that its first priority was to ensure the safety of the players, officials and the public and regretfully decided that the tie would not be held in Israel as originally scheduled.''
Israel has the option of nominating a neutral venue in a different country. If approved by the ITF, Israel will still be considered the home nation and have the financial responsibility of running the event.
If Israel does not agree to play in a neutral venue, the ITF said, the committee has the right to schedule the match on a neutral ground or in Argentina.
''The situation in Israel is very fluid at the moment and yet security in Israel is of an exceptionally high standard,'' Davis Cup Committee chairman Juan Margets said. ''Ultimately the outcome rested on the lack of certainty of the situation at the date of the tie, on the decision of other sports not to compete in Israel at this time and on the ITF's duty to ensure the safety of players, officials and spectators.''
The ITF decision came three days after the men's ATP tour canceled the inaugural Israel Open that was set to be played Sept. 15-21 in Tel Aviv, because of security concerns. It would have been the first ATP tournament held in Israel since 1996.
UEFA has already barred Israeli football clubs from playing European matches at home because of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The European Short-Course Swimming Championships in Israel have been postponed by a year until 2015. The European swimming federation did not mention the military conflict in announcing its decision.
Also Thursday, the ITF decided that Kiev would remain as the venue for Ukraine's World Group playoff against Belgium on Sept. 12-14.
The ITF had considered a change of venue because of the fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatist rebels.
''The committee determined that, given the current information available, Ukraine would be allowed to host the tie at the Palace of Sports as scheduled,'' it said. ''The committee will continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine.''