HOCKEY India (HI) president Vidya Stokes Wednesday allayed security apprehensions of New Zealand and Australian teams, saying the Indian government is taking all necessary steps to host a ’safe and secure’ World cup that begins here Feb 28.
Stokes said that no country has officially expressed any doubts about its participation in the World Cup.
‘There is no reason to panic. We are going to make them (teams) feel comfortable and secure in India,’ Stokes told IANS.
‘We are in touch with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and they have not expressed any apprehensions about security. FIH is dealing with the teams and they are satisfied with the arrangements,’ Stokes said.
Asked about the reports of Hockey New Zealand and Australia re-assessing the security situation, Stokes said: ‘All teams are participating and there should be no reason why one team should feel otherwise. Every country knows that it is an important sporting event for India and we cannot afford to be lax on the security front.’
‘Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit Tuesday told the union government that they would take care of the security of team hotels, stadium etc. She has given the assurance and the government is totally capable of handling the situation,’ Stokes added.
Hockey NZ chief executive Hilary Poole was quoted as saying in New Zealand media Wednesday that the safety of the players, coaches and team management was of significant importance and it made sense to further assess the situation before sending them to New Delhi.
‘We have been monitoring this situation all along. But the events over the past 24 hours have led us to reassess the situation,’ Poole said.
Australian players are also awaiting a security reassessment, its association said.
Global terror network Al Qaeda’s Pakistan arm has warned of attacks in India, particularly targeting international sports events like the Commonwealth Games, the Hockey World Cup and the IPL cricket tournament.