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England quits WBC after threat
Hyderabad, AUG 9 (Agencies):
Published on 10 Aug. 2009 1:10 AM IST
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Despite India’s Home Minister personally assuring all the participating teams viz-a-viz adequate safety measures during the forthcoming World Badminton Championships in Pune, England on Sunday announced their decision to pull out of the tourney, scheduled to begin tomorrow. An organiser of the world championship confirmed England’s withdrawal. The official, on condition of anonymity, said that a statement would be issued later in the day, detailing the exact reasons behind the withdrawal. The eight-strong squad pulled out of the tournament, which starts on Monday, following reports of a threat by the Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy said it was “an incredibly tough decision”. He added: “After the Olympic Games, this is the most prestigious championships in the world but we were not prepared to risk the safety of our players, coaches and staff in what we felt could have been a very volatile environment.” Christy said the team, which included Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson, had “carefully considered” information from local police authorities. And after taking advice from the Foreign Office and British High Commission, the conclusion made by Badminton England was “that safety is of paramount importance,” he added. Performance director Ian Moss said: “It is a disappointing outcome, especially after we had enjoyed a very good preparation at our holding camp in Doha, Qatar, last week. “Our athletes were extremely well prepared for these championships but, at the end of the day, personal safety must take priority over performance. “This was a unanimous squad decision and is not reflective of the efforts made by the organising committee to create the safest environment possible for all athletes.” This is not the first time that England sportsperson have pulled out of an event in India over security concerns. As recently as March, two of England’s top badminton players withdrew from the India Open citing similar concerns. There were reports earlier by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to the state authorities that terror elements would attempt to strike at the international players during the Championship, as they did against Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan recently. Top-ranked badminton players are scheduled to take part in the high profile World Championships slated to be held at Gatchibowli from August 10 to 16. As of Friday, over 200 players from all over the world and their support staff had already arrived. Following the specific threat, security teams had fanned across the entire area.

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