Australia will not send its Davis Cup team to India for next month's tie because of security concerns, Tennis Australia (TA) said on Saturday, leaving the country facing the prospect of a year-long ban and a big fine.
TA had asked the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to move the May 8-10 Asia/Oceania group I tie from the southern Indian city of Chennai but that appeal was rejected on Friday.
"The ITF decision has left us with no other option," Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard said in a statement.
"We cannot send the team. It is extremely disappointing. It would be irresponsible of us to send our players into an area of such high risk. Davis Cup is very important to us but some things are more important than tennis."
The ITF said it would decide on any sanctions in due course. Under competition rules, Australia could face a 12-month ban.
"The ITF regrets and respectfully disagrees with the decision..." the ITF said in a statement on the Davis Cup website.
"By virtue of its decision not to send a team to compete against India, Australia has forfeited the tie. India is declared the winner."
Security for sports teams in the sub-continent has been called into question following the ambush of the Sri Lanka cricket team's bus in Lahore, Pakistan, last month.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India moved the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 league to South Africa after the government said providing security would be a problem due to clash of dates with the general election.
India also remains nervous after terrorists killed more than 150 people in a three-day attack in Mumbai in November, but sportsminister Manohar Singh Gill was disappointed by the decision.
"Australiashould have come and played," he said in a statement.
"Itis also, in my view, not correct to take quick and unjustified objections to playing in certain parts of the world, and by implication implying, that we, in future, play all sports, in certain other countries only. This is not likely to happen."
Australia'sDavis Cup captain John Fitzgerald said he was angry with the ITF and pointed to events surrounding the election that suggested security forces were being stretched.
"Itis just irresponsible. Surely some thought must be given to the players' safety," Fitzgerald said.
"Ibelieve they say the election is not a cause for concern, the IPL moving is not relevant and that an ATP tournament held in January shows it is safe to play in Chennai.
"Sowhat about the fact that dozens of people are being killed along the campaign trail of the election? A train was hijacked this week, but that does not alter their thoughts? Did the IPL move for no reason?
"Thisdecision makes no sense. We have worked so hard to get back in to World Group contention, to have it snatched away like this is gut wrenching."
Three weeks ago the ITF banned the city of Malmo from hosting future Davis Cup ties for five years and fined Swedish tennis officials $25,000after the host nation decided to stage the World Group tie against Israel behind closed doors.
"It interests me that though the UK has had terrorists incidents, Australia will be going for the Ashes cricket in May, and play before crowds of 30,000or more, with obvious security concerns," Gill added.