ANDY RAM and YONI ERLICH 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel will have to host its Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Argentina abroad after the ITF ruled on Thursday that it can't be held in Tel Aviv due to the security situation.
Three days after the ATP World Tour 250 tournament scheduled to take place at Ramat Hasharon next month was canceled, the ITF's Davis Cup Committee unanimously agreed that, "due to concerns arising from the military conflict between Israel and Hamas, it is not advisable at this time for Israel to host Argentina."
The tie was scheduled for September 12-14 at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv, but the Israel Tennis Association was given five days on Thursday to select a neutral venue.
Among the ITA's possible alternatives are: New York, Delray Beach (Florida), Krakow (Poland) and Tallinn (Estonia).
"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 statement read. "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."
Davis Cup Committee chairman Juan Margets said the decision was problematic for the committee because the situation in Israel is very "fluid" even though "security in Israel is of an exceptionally high standard."
"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," explained Margets.
The decision to move the tie away from Israel will also likely mean that Andy Ram will not play against Argentina.
Ram announced his retirement in April, but planned to join forces with Yoni Erlich one last time in front of the home fans in the doubles match against Argentina. However, following Thursday's ruling, he is expected to announce that he will not take part in the tie, officially bringing his playing career to a close.
As if playing the tie abroad and Ram's likely absence weren't bad enough, Israel is also sweating on the fitness of the team's No. 2 player Amir Weintraub. The 27-year-old has played just one match in two months due to a groin injury and underwent surgery last week after unsuccessfully trying to overcome the pain with injections.
Weintraub is expected to return to training in two weeks, although it remains to be seen if he can regain match fitness in time for the tie.