Myanmar drops Davis Cup ties over unrest
Aqeel Khan of Pakistan hits a return against Artem Sitak of New Zealand during their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group II tennis match in Myanmar's capital Yangon on April 5, 2013. Myanmar has cancelled a series of Davis Cup matches in Yangon after security fears were raised following a recent outbreak of religious violence, local tennis officials said Tuesday.
Matches in Asia-Oceania groups III and IV set for this week were scrapped after the world tennis body questioned players' safety following anti-Muslim riots in March which left at least 43 people dead.
Players from Muslim nations such as Bahrain, Iraq and Saudi Arabia were due to compete in the event, which comes as Myanmar prepares to host a Southeast Asian Games seen as a coming out party for the former junta-ruled nation.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) voiced "security concerns... because of what happened in Meiktila," Lay Naing, secretary of the Myanmar Tennis Federation, told AFP, referring to the town where violence erupted in March.
"The other (participating) countries have also questioned our security," he said, adding Myanmar's sport ministry had decided to "postpone" the matches on April 13.
A second federation official, requesting anonymity, said the players had to cancel their flights at the last minute.
On its website the ITF said it was yet to decide a new date and venue for the round-robin international competition, but Myanmar tennis officials said it would not take place in their country.
The cancellation follows controversy early this month when a Davis Cup tie between Pakistan and New Zealand -- played in Myanmar because of parlous security in the Muslim nation -- was abandoned because of an unplayable court.
Myanmar is set to host the Southeast Asian Games -- a regional athletics competition -- in December, with rival nations keenly watching preparations as the former pariah state takes tentative steps back onto the global stage.