Zimbabwe gets World Cup go ahead - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Zimbabwe gets World Cup go ahead

By Paul Mulvey 20/12/2002 06:20:31 AM Comments (0)

The International Cricket Council has given Zimbabwe the go ahead to host six matches at next year's World Cup despite fears over security in the troubled country.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the sport's governing body stayed out of politics and its decision was based on improved safety and security conditions for players and officials.

The ICC confirmed Zimbabwe would co-host the tournament next February and March with South Africa and Kenya following a fact finding trip last month.

Defending champion Australia will play Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, the nation's second-largest city, on February 24.

"The board confirmed that the six first-round matches scheduled for Zimbabwe will take place as planned," Speed said at a press conference at Lord's.

"The ICC is a cricket organisation, not a political institution. It makes decisions on what is in the best interests of cricket, it doesn't make political decisions on political issues."

A 14-strong delegation, including the chief executives of seven of the ten ICC member countries, visited Harare and Bulawayo last month and reported no need to relocate the matches because of safety and security.

Australia cancelled a tour to Zimbabwe earlier this year following advice from the federal government but Australian Cricket Board chief executive James Sutherland was part of last month's delegation and was satisfied safety and security had improved markedly.

The delegation, however, said the situation in Zimbabwe would be monitored and would review the issue if there was a deterioration in safety.

"Zimbabwe is one of the ten full members of the ICC and has earned the right to host matches," Speed said.

"There is common ground that Zimbabwe is a troubled country, but our aim is to try and bring a positive element to people in Zimbabwe, those who are interested in cricket and want to watch cricket."

Speed said it was up to politicians, not sporting bodies, to take action against Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe whose policies have sent the African nation bankrupt and resulted in the death of almost 200 people in political violence in the past two years.

Zimbabwe is also hosting matches against Namibia, England and India in the capital Harare and Holland and Pakistan in Bulawayo.

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