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Rajanish Kakade/AP
Indian Premier League (IPL) Chairman Lalit Modi, second right, speaks to the media as
Kolkata Knight riders cricket team owner Shah Rukh Khan, left, and team Mohali's owner
Priety Zinta, right, look on after a meeting with IPL franchise owners in Mumbai.

Indian Cricket League Moved Abroad Amid Security Concerns

March 23, 2009 12:02 PM
by Denis Cummings
The Indian Premier League’s tournament will be moved outside of India due to security concerns following the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Pakistan.

IPL Tournament Moved Outside India

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The Indian Premier League, a professional league featuring many of the world’s best players, will play this year’s Twenty20 tournament outside the country after the government said it could not guarantee the safety of the players.

The six-week tournament, which runs from April 10 to May 24, coincides with the general elections in India between April 16 and May 13. The Indian government has warned the IPL that government security forces will be unable to provide adequate security for both the elections and the cricket games.

“Due to the attitude of the government that it cannot provide security for the tournament, we are forced to take a decision to move the IPL out of India,” said Shashank Manohar, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. “I apologise to the people of India for moving the tournament out.”

The safety of cricket players has come under question after the March 3 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan. Security officials feared that the attack, likely carried out by the same terrorist organization responsible for the November attacks in Mumbai, could be repeated in India.

Concerns were further raised on Tuesday, when it was revealed that a Pakistan-based Islamic group had planned to kidnap Indian cricket players Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar earlier this decade.

The IPL had been discussing alternative schedules with the Indian government over the past several weeks, but a solution could not be reached. The BCCI has reportedly identified England and South Africa as the likely replacement hosts.

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Background: Lahore cricket attack

On March 3, a bus carrying the Sri Lankan national cricket team to its match in Lahore, Pakistan, was attacked by 12 gunmen believed to belong to a militant group with ties to al-Qaida. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed, while several players and coaches were injured.

Due to the attack, the first terrorist attack targeting athletes since the 1972 Munich massacre, international cricket matches will not be played in Pakistan for the foreseeable future. Many analysts fear that a terrorist attack in India would have a similar effect.

Reactions: India disappointed by move

Many Indian cricket fans were disappointed by the news. “This time I don't think the same excitement will prevail,” one fan told the Indo-Asian News Service. “With all the matches happening outside, the reaction of the Indian crowd gives a different flavour. We will miss IPL at home.”

The Indian tourism industry, already struggling due to the international recession, was also frustrated. “It’s a shame to the country,” said Assocham Tourism Committee chairman Subhash Goe to the Press Trust of India. “As far as the tourism industry is concerned…, yes, it would have been beneficial had it been held in the country, considering that the sector is facing the heat of the downturn.”

The BBC’s Chris Morris believes that, though it is a “sad day” for cricket in India, the decision shouldn’t be criticized. “However awkward this decision seems to be, the potential alternative could have been worse,” he writes. “If there had been an attack on an IPL match—and if security was shown to be deficient—that would have been even more damaging for India's image abroad.”

Reference: Cricket and the IPL

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