Johannesburg: World Cup cricket boss Ali Bacher on Friday played down an Australian warning to travellers that terrorists might strike in South Africa, a month ahead of the 2003 World Cup. Bacher, executive director of the 2003 ICC World Cup, told the Johannesburg-based daily 'The Star' he had met police chiefs and had been assured the event, like the UN Earth Summit last year, would be without major incident. "I am in constant contact with the government and its intelligence agencies and they have...assured me that this country will be able to put together a global event that is safe and secure," he told the paper.
South Africa also increased security at Johannesburg International Airport, including roadblocks and random searches of cars, 'The Star' reported. Australia's Foreign Affairs Department issued a warning on Thursday advising travellers to South Africa to "exercise caution, particularly in commercial and public areas," but denied it was in reference to the competition. "The travel advice merely points out that there may be an increased risk of terrorism in SA. It's general information. We don't have any specific threat." Eighty-eight Australians died in the October 12 bombing at a nightclub in Bali, authorities said last month. South Africa hosted the UN Earth Summit, also called the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in August and September last year.
Despite threats of disruption by both rightwing extremists and leftwing anti- globalisation protesters, the event, which hosted an estimated 37,000 delegates, went off without any major security problems. World Cup organisers were expecting an estimated 25,000 foreign fans to attend the cricket showcase, which starts in Cape Town on February 8.