WC 2003 - Bacher allays Zimbabwe security fears for World Cup

Published: Friday, January 17, 2003, 21:49 [IST]
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Johannesburg: World Cup organiser Ali Bacher on Thursday allayed security concerns over games being played in Zimbabwe but said he would travel there shortly to check the situation.Bacher, executive director of the World Cup organising committee, said he had met South African police for a three-hour briefing about six weeks ago, and was assured that similar security measures would be taken by Zimbabwe's police."During that meeting I was told that our police and the Zimbabwe police are in close regular contact and that we can expect that what's going on in Zimbabwe will be a safe and secure World Cup during that period in February," Bacher told reporters.But he said he would travel to famine-threatened Zimbabwe soon for an update on the situation there."I'm going up there within the next 10 days, just to get a feel of what the situation is," he said.Bacher added however he believed although the majority of South Africans felt that "the political direction in Zimbabwe must change", the situation there would not have an influence on the World Cup."What's happened in Zimbabwe will not in our view undermine what we believe will be a wonderful event for South Africa, Africa and international cricket."South African skipper Shaun Pollock said, "It would be very disappointing if it (the situation in Zimbabwe) did put a damper on the event.""It would be very sad if it did have an impact on teams who would take no points from certain games and other sides who might end up going through to the top six, not because they deserved to be there, but because other teams didn't get their points from a game because they refused to play."Critics of President Robert Mugabe have been calling for a boycott of the six World Cup matches to be played in Zimbabwe in February and March in protest of the alleged human rights abuses committed by his government.Only a deterioration in the security situation there was likely to stop the six matches from going ahead.This week the English and Wales Cricket Board decided to proceed with its fixture in Zimbabwe on February 13 despite pressure from the British government to boycott the match.The Australian government said Thursday it had all but given up its effort to persuade the Australian team to boycott its match in Zimbabwe.The International Cricket Council (ICC) has also set up a committee to monitor the security situation there.A Zimbabwean coalition of civic and political groups on Thursday vowed to hold widespread anti-government demonstrations ahead of the World Cup matches.

Copyright AFP 2001

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