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- Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - From Print Edition


KARACHI: Pakistan has been denied its right to host Davis Cup tie against New Zealand in April this year, which will cost the country $1.25 million. The authorities are now looking for a neutral venue, which could be Singapore or Malaysia.


Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has been trying to convince International Tennis Federation (ITF) as regards its home ties since 2007, the year when Pakistan first lost hosting rights. But it has failed to achieve its goal.


According to Davis Cup Economic Survey 2009, average Davis Cup tie in Zone I and II creates economic activity worth $1.25 million. Pakistan has been losing this much amount for not being allowed to host home ties in Pakistan.


Though the PTF is trying its best to host this home tie at either Malaysia or Singapore, the loss is of PTF in any case. The only benefit Pakistan will get through a neutral venue is the surface of its choice.


The survey further states, “Traditional measures of economic impact look at how much money ripples around the economy of a city and nation as a direct result of hosting a Davis Cup tie. They also give an idea of the additional value created in that economy. What these traditional impacts miss however is the extent to which a major sporting event can contribute to the long-term prospects for the host city and nation. This is known as the ‘catalytic impact’.


“This ‘catalytic impact’ is no doubt large in Davis Cup, and is very important for those countries (like Pakistan) that would not normally have an opportunity to host a major world sporting event.”


The survey added that the longer term benefits to the host city or country included improvements in infrastructure such as transport, hotels, restaurants, sporting venues, and the impact of the ‘brand’ of the host city or country and its attractiveness as a tourist destination.


The report estimates that the total catalytic impact of Davis Cup in 2008 was around $30 million. It has become evident that Davis Cup is an important source of revenue for national tennis associations. Enrique Morea, President Asociacion Argentina de Tenis, was quoted in the report in this regard as saying, “National Associations like ours, in a country with an uncertain economic situation, rely on Davis Cup and the revenue it generates.”


Had Pakistan been hosting its Davis Cup ties at home, it could have helped the game in the country, particularly because the national federation does not have many resources.


President PTF Kaleem Imam said they tried rigorously last time (2012) as Senior Vice President Haroon Sharif himself visited ITF Headquarters, but poor law and order in Pakistan prevented ITF from allowing us to host our ties.


Since Pakistani players are interested in playing on grass courts, the only options for neutral venues are India, Malaysia and Singapore. “We tried for India (in 2012), but there were security and clearance issues. Malaysia was not forthcoming last year but now they are showing some interest, thus we are talking to them,” he added.


Apparently, having home ties at neutral venues seems good, but “playing abroad entails extra budget and huge expenditure, so we need to see our chances of win as well. What the win would bring for Pakistan at neutral venue is also worth to ponder,” added Kaleem.


The government seems uninterested in supporting this game, particularly at a time when Pakistan Sports Board, a government organisation, and Pakistan Olympic Association, a body affiliated with a global organisation, are in conflict.