1974 : Tennis against apartheid

Jun 15, 2023, 11:04:07 AM

India against racism in the Davis Cup

India and South Africa should have played the 1974 Davis Cup final, but the match never took place. Nelson Mandela was still in prison; the racist and segregationist system of apartheid was still in force in South Africa. Apartheid was vividly criticised in India, South Africa’s opponent in the final. There was no way the biggest democratic country in the world would let its players go to Johannesburg, where the final was set to take place. India issued requests to play the final on neutral ground in vain. “In South Africa, the crowd would have been split between white and non-white fans,” said journalist Sy Lerman in The New York Times – Lerman was sent to Johannesburg by The Daily Mail to cover the final in 1974. 

Plus, the Indian fans would have probably been sent to a dedicated area too. Indian captain Vijay Amritraj says that a boycott was the only solution for the Indian government. “I should have played the final. As a sportsman, I was disappointed, but as an individual, I took pride in the fact that my government made the right call,” he said in The New York Times. Though apartheid was abolished in 1991, both nations met in the tournament only in 2009. India won 4-1.