Australia steps up pressure for boycott of Zim games

Published: Monday, February 3, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: The Australian government on Monday stepped up its pressure for a boycott of World Cup matches in Zimbabwe, offering to consider financial compensation for cancelled matches. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australian diplomats would give updated information about the risks of playing games in Bulawayo to the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and the International Cricket Council (ICC). Downer said on Sunday that the High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Jonathon Brown, had sent a "disturbing report" warning that widespread protests during Australia's match in Bulawayo were likely to turn violent. With concern growing about security, Downer has also called on the ICC Board to reverse its decision to support matches going ahead as scheduled in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Several Australian players have expressed concerns, England wants its match in Zimbabwe moved and New Zealand's cricketers want their match against Kenya moved to South Africa for security reasons. New Zealand cricket also says it is likely to appeal to an ICC technical committee to resolve the dispute over its refusal to play a World Cup match in Kenya. Downer said on Monday that there were risks of playing in Zimbabwe for both the players and the Australian fans who have bought tickets for the matches. "I understand 400 Australians have bought tickets for the game, so we obviously have concerns for their security as well," Downer told 'commercial radio' here. He said the ICC might have to pay compensation to the Zimbabwe Cricket Union if World Cup matches were cancelled. "Our answer to that is, well, if compensation has to be paid, we'll have a look at making a contribution ourselves to that compensation," he said.

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