Monday, February 22, 2010

Australia off to World Cup

SYDNEY: Australia will press ahead with plans to compete in this month's Hockey World Cup in New Delhi after being advised there were no known credible security threats to the tournament, Hockey Australia said on Sunday.
The sporting body said it had been assured by security briefings from Indian government and security agencies, along with the Australian High Commission and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Security fears surfaced after a bombing last weekend at a restaurant in the western Indian city of Pune, which killed 12 people.
The Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online news website added to concerns when it said last week that it had received a warning from an Al-Qaeda-linked militant group about attacking sports events in India.
But Hockey Australia said it had continued to assess the security situation for the February 28-March 13 tournament through a number of government and independent sources to give the Kookaburras the best available information.
The Australian team was due to departed for India on Sunday.
The organisation said all the information on the security situation it had received was consistent.
"The advice states that there is a strong commitment and tangible evidence of the authorities' ability to implement robust security measures to ensure our team's safety at all times," it said in a statement.
"All threats have been assessed and there are no known credible World Cup threats at this time. DFAT's travel advice is consistent with these findings."
It said the findings had been passed on to team members prior to their departure to ensure they were able to decide whether or not to compete.
Some family members of the Australian team had called on Hockey Australia to boycott the event over terrorism fears.
Paul Kelly, from Sportslink International, the company responsible for booking most of the supporters' arrangements, said there had been late cancellations from Australians who had wanted to go to the World Cup.
"We're down to around eight to 10 people in our group now whereas we were looking at 20 to 25," Kelly said last week. "A lot of people have been scared off."

The Times of India