Politicians will have no official role to play: Bacher

Published: Friday, January 31, 2003, 0:31 [IST]
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Durban: English cricketers' dilemma about whether or not to shake hands with President Robert Mugabe if they have to play their World Cup match in Zimbabwe has been put to rest by an ICC decision which denies any official role to politicians or administrators during the mega event.

After the inaugural ceremony on February 8, not a single administrator or politician would be allowed to step on to the grounds till the World Cup was presented to the winning team by ICC President Malcolm Gray, World Cup organising committee chairman Ali Bacher said. "This was a policy decision taken jointly by the ICC and myself," Bacher was quoted by media reports as saying.

"Once the tournament starts, it is the cricketers who must be on the front pages, not the administrators." "Politicians may be invited as VIP guests to the games but they will have no official role to play, apart from the opening ceremony, where President Thabo Mbeki (of South Africa) will officially open the eighth World Cup," Bacher said.

The decision means that even if England has to travel to Zimbabwe to play its match against the hosts in Harare on February 13 it would be spared of the embarrassing possibility of having to shake hands with Mugabe. Bacher said whether Mugabe attended any of the six games to be played in Zimbabwe was an issue to be sorted out by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU). Mugabe is also the patron of ZCU.

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