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NZ, Aus hockey teams to reasses WC security

Source: PTI
February 17, 2010 16:23 IST
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New Zealand and Australia will reassess the security measures put in place for the forthcoming hockey World Cup in India in the wake of the reported terror threats issued to foreign teams during the 12-team quadrennial event.

The fresh concerns over athletes' safety in India came up after HuJI chief and al-Qaida commander Ilyas Kashmiri warned of possible violence against foreign teams visiting India.

In his email to a Hong Kong-based news website, Kashmiri has warned of potential attacks on foreign players during this month's hockey World Cup, Indian Premier League cricket tournament and the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi from October 3-14.

New Zealand were due to leave for India on February 22 from Perth, but Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole said the team's travel plan has been put on hold until they reasses the security arrangements for the February 28-March 13 mega-event to be held in Delhi.

"While Hockey New Zealand still plans for the Black Sticks men's team to attend the Hockey World Cup in Delhi, it has decided to keep the team in Perth until further notice," Poole was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.

"We have been monitoring this situation all along. But the events over the past 24 hours have led us to reassess the situation," she said. Hockey Australia said that it was aware about the threat but as of now, the team's schedule remains unchanged.

"Until we receive further advice our plans will remain unchanged," HA chief executive Mark Anderson said in a statement.

The governments of both the countries maintained that players safety was of paramount importance to them, but said they have not advised against travelling to India and the decision ultimately rests with the players.

"The decision whether to travel or not ultimately rests with the sporting team. We wouldn't stop a sporting team going," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said.

His Australian counterpart too said that his government was taking the matter seriously and are working closely with Indian inteligence agencies.

"The Indian authorities have pledged to implement strong security procedures for all upcoming sporting events in India. We, however will be following this very, very closely," Kevin Rudd said.

Australian hockey coach Ric Charlesworth said that his boys were keen to play in the World Cup despite the threat.

"They want to play at the World Cup but their families and the other people who are in their lives are reading the newspapers and are concerned," he told ABC Radio.

"We're aware of what the security arrangements are and we're in touch with the Australian High Commission. They're on the ground in Delhi and they know what's going on," Charlesworth said.

"The Indians have a lot at stake here. They'll want to do this well because they got the Commonweath Games coming up," he added.

Charlesworth feels with matches scheduled all over India, IPL-bound cricketers are vulnerable to terror attacks.

"Certainly on the basis of what has happened in the last six months, I wouldn't think there is an issue. I'd be much more woried if I was an IPL cricketer because there's games all over the county in different places.

"It's much harder to secure that environment than one place where everyone is playing, that's easy to manage," he said.

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