Bangladesh unrest casts doubt over safety of World T20

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Cricket security officials will gather in Bangladesh later this week to decide whether it is safe to stage the World Twenty20 there. They may decide on a last-ditch switch to another country, possibly Sri Lanka, if there are enough concerns that it will be dangerous to run a tournament in the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong, where there has been severe civil unrest recently.

Several of the competing nations are known to have reservations about travelling to Bangladesh. Rumours of a switch have been rife and Australia were convinced a week ago that the tournament, scheduled to start in March, would be moved. The security meeting will assess not only the level of risk to teams but whether it is possible to run a trouble-free tournament.

England are due to play in Chittagong, where a bomb exploded outside the Agrabad Hotel a month ago. The country has been beset by clashes between pro- and anti-government forces, which came to a head after the general election 11 days ago. At least 80 people have been killed.

The attack on the Sri Lanka team coach five years ago in Lahore, where Sri Lanka were playing Pakistan, is still too fresh in the memory to allow risks to be taken.

Foreign Office advice to visitors to Bangladesh said the opposition alliance had agreed to lift its road and rail blockade after the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, was sworn in for her third term, but warned: "You should not expect to be able to travel or go about your business normally."