The Switzerland team competing in the World Junior Squash Championships has arrived for the tournament in Chennai without their top player, 16-year-old Ambre Allinckx. This after her parents expressed apprehension about her safety in India.
This news comes days after a global survey conducted by Canadian mass media and information firm Thomson Reuters indicated that India is ‘the most dangerous country for women'. The Central Government has vehemently denied the finding but this latest decision by an international sportsperson reveals that the report has already left its mark. Ambre Allinckx’s decision also comes days after a 11-year-old girl's alleged sexual assault by multiple men and a Russian tourist's alleged rape made headlines in Tamil Nadu over the last week.
"Ambre is our country's number 1 junior and she had reached the third place play-off in the European Junior Championship in March. But unfortunately, her parents did not allow her to come to India to play this tournament after reading stories on the internet about heinous crimes against girls. I tried to plead with them because this is a World Championship and I felt she had a very good chance but they were adamant and I could not argue further because it is after all the safety of their child," said Pascal Bruhin Swiss junior coach to ToI.
The World Squash Federation was then forced to respond in order to emphasise that they had confidence in the security arrangements at the venue.
“Of course the views and choice of every parent must be fully respected," says Andrew Shelley, WSF Chief Executive. “However, there are over 250 players and officials from 28 countries, including a full squad from Switzerland. Like the WSF, they all have complete confidence with the security arrangements made by Tamil Nadu Squash Rackets Association at the Championship Hotel and playing venues to ensure the safety of the players at this event,” he adds.
The Tamil Nadu Squash Rackets Association, meanwhile brushed away the allegations and told TNM that a 'mountain is being made off a molehill'.
"This is a disproportionate reaction to the situation and the participation of 280 players proves that," said an association member to TNM.
But according to reports, teams from USA, Iran and Australia have also raised safety concerns. Some teams have even advised their players to dress conservatively in a bid to keep a low profile.