ICC stays put, says Zimbabwe WC matches to go ahead

Published: Friday, January 10, 2003, 22:38 [IST]
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Hobart: The International Cricket Council (ICC) remains committed to the view that World Cup matches will be moved from Zimbabwe only if the troubled country becomes unsafe for players, ICC president Malcolm Gray said on Friday. Gray, an Australian, said the world cricket body could not make political judgments about President Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, which the Australian and British governments accuse of human rights violations and election rigging. Gray said the ICC had the competence and mandate to make judgments about safety in Zimbabwe, but political judgments were up to governments.

A 27-year-old Australian man was stabbed to death on Saturday in an apparent robbery attempt while visiting Victoria Falls in North Western Zimbabwe. Gray said he believed Zimbabwe was now safe, but the situation was constantly monitored by the World Cup committee in South Africa - the principal host - and its security advisers. If the situation deteriorated, matches would be moved if there was time, he said.

If there wasn't - if, for example, there was a serious incident within a day or two of a match - there were procedures for allocating points. Gray rejected suggestions the security situation could be used to solve the political problem. Only in Australia and England -- both of whose teams are to play in Zimbabwe -- did politics appear to be an issue, he said. Gray said he believed individual players should be allowed to refuse to play in Zimbabwe as a matter of conscience. However, that was a matter for their national boards. He also supported managing teams so players would not be put in a position of having to shake hands with Mugabe government representatives.

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