WELLINGTON (Reuters) – There is no question of being complacent with security at this year’s World Cup following a mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques last week, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has said.
Members of the Bangladesh cricket team narrowly avoided being caught up in the shooting, which killed 50 people, by a suspected white supremacist last Friday.
Their third test against New Zealand that had been scheduled to start on Saturday at nearby Hagley Oval was subsequently cancelled and it also prompted calls from Asian cricket officials and politicians to step up security for touring teams.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said security was always an issue for his organisation and ensuring the May 30-July 14 World Cup in England and Wales was safe would be a priority.
“It has always been the case that we’ve had to make sure that we keep security absolutely priority, not only for the players but also for the visiting media, fans, spectators and everyone who attends the event,” Richardson was quoted as saying by cricket website Cricinfo.
“Something happening in New Zealand probably took a lot of people by surprise and it emphasised the need not to be complacent, especially going into the World Cup.
“I know the work done already by the security director together with all the security agencies in the UK, they are leaving no stone unturned, and if the threat level should rise in any way we will (further upgrade) the plans in place.”
Cricket teams have previously abandoned tours because of security fears but most had been in South Asia, including Bangladesh which Australia decided against touring in 2015.
Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked by gunmen in Lahore during their tour of Pakistan in 2009. Six members of the team were wounded, while six security personnel and two civilians were killed.
Pakistan still host nearly all of their international matches in the United Arab Emirates due to ongoing security concerns.
New Zealand abandoned their 1987 tour of Sri Lanka following a bombing near their hotel in Colombo in which more than 100 people were killed.
They also abandoned a tour of Pakistan in May 2002 following a suicide bombing outside their hotel in Karachi.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)