ISLAMABAD-International Tennis Federation (ITF) gold badge referee Stéphane Apostolou termed Pakistan safe for all kinds of sporting activities and also termed his visit to the country as remarkable one.

Stéphane, who came Pakistan as ITF observer for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II tie against Iran held at Pakistan Sports Complex hard courts from February 3 to 5, expressed these views during an exclusive interview with The Nation just before his departure to France. He said he would remember the hospitality and love provided to him by Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) and people of Pakistan during his week-long stay here.

“Hats off to the PTF for making wonderful arrangements, despite not hosting the tie for 12 long years, I must admit that I am fully satisfied with the efforts and work put in by the federation and people involved in ensuring the tie goes on smoothly. If we go by the ITF rules book, it had lots of things included but the matter of the fact is that the PTF did a fantastic job and I will defiantly mention these things in my report,” he added.

Replying to a query regarding security arrangements, Stéphane said: “Unfortunately due to hectic schedule and a lot of work, I couldn’t visit Islamabad, but PTF president Salim Saifullah has taken me out to visit different places. I am very glad to visit Pakistan, and it is pretty much safe and secure for holding international sports events.”

When asked whether he would like to visit Pakistan again, he said: “I would surely love to come again and will plan visit to different beautiful places of Pakistan, as I had heard a lot about beauty of this country. The way this tie was conducted and the way people turned up to support both the teams, it was amazing and one thing is sure, international sports are bound to return to Pakistan.”

He said: “I feel people must not pay heed to rumours and negativity spread about Pakistan and instead they must visit the country once and feel it is as save as any part of the world could be. Being a ITF representative, I had witnessed the way people were so exciting and come in huge numbers. These are very positive signs and hopefully in the next tie, Pakistani tennis fans would be able to come in more numbers, as international events always attract more and more youngsters.

“It was a wonderful experience for me to come and stay in Pakistan. I got immense amount of love and respect here and I am fully satisfied and I will mention all the positive things in my report. Despite heavy rain, ground staff and the PTF did a remarkable job of ensuring the reverse singles matches start in time and this spirit always helps nations in climbing new heights,” Stéphane concluded.