Venezuela venue for Davis Cup match in doubt over security
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been barred from hosting a Davis Cup tie against Peru by the International Tennis Federation over security concerns.
The Venezuelan Tennis Federation considers the decision baseless, and plans to appeal.
''We don't deny we're in the worst crisis in our country's history,'' said an angry Luis Contreras, president of the Venezuelan federation, ''but that only affects a sector of the population. There no justification for this.''
Venezuela has until Thursday to choose a neutral location to host the Americas Group II final from Sept. 16-18 that was scheduled for the central city of Puerto La Cruz. If it fails to do so, the tie will be moved to Peru, Contreras said.
He said the ITF decision by email on Friday came as a shock because Venezuela hosted events this year without incident, including a home tie against Paraguay in March, and always had fluid and cordial communications with tennis' governing body.
''This is something you only see in countries paralyzed by war,'' Contreras said.
ITF spokesman Nick Imison, in an email to The AP, said the tie was being moved from Venezuela on the advice of ''independent risk assessment advisers regarding security concerns.'' He didn't elaborate.
Venezuela's political unrest has already disrupted some sporting competitions in the country.
In June, the U.S. junior wrestling team withdrew from a regional tournament over security concerns, and in recent days speculation in the media has been rife that Argentina could skip a World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday in the city of Merida.
In addition to rampant crime, Venezuelans are suffering from a deep economic crisis marked by 700 percent inflation and widespread food shortages. This week, hundreds of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro poured into the streets to demand a recall referendum cutting short his terms.