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Zimbabwe Pulls Out of Twenty20 Cricket Tournament


Zimbabwe has pulled out of next year's World Twenty20 cricket tournament in England. The decision, announced after an International Cricket Council board meeting in Dubai, ends a deadlock over demands that the African nation be suspended because of its political crisis. From VOA's London News center, Tendai Maphosa has more.

Britain, South Africa and others had wanted Zimbabwe Cricket ejected or suspended from the International Cricket Council, ICC, because of the political turmoil in the African country. But media reports say other members notably India, were against the move arguing that politics and sports should not mix.

As a result, Zimbabwe's withdrawal is seen as a compromise that allows it to continue as a member of the ICC.

ICC Communications Officer James Fitzgerald explains.

"The Zimbabwe delegation to the ICC annual conference will be recommending to its board that the Zimbabwean team withdraws from the ICC World Twenty20 2009 due to take place in England. The reason for this is that it is aware the British government is likely to refuse to grant visas for the Zimbabwe cricket team to take part in the World Twenty20 event," explained Fitzgerald.

This development follows last week's cutting off of bilateral cricket ties with Zimbabwe by the England and Wales Cricket Board and the South African Cricket authorities.

Both decisions were reached on the basis of the political situation in Zimbabwe. South Africa's cricket administrators, once Cricket Zimbabwe's strongest allies, were forced into cutting ties by players who threatened they would not play against Zimbabwe on moral grounds.

VOA spoke with Kate Hoey, a member of the British parliament who chairs the all party parliamentary committee on Zimbabwe. She said though she wants Zimbabwe suspended from the ICC, she supports the decision not to have the Zimbabwe cricket team in Britain next year.

"I think it's good that the ICC has finally recognized that it would have been a ridiculous situation for Zimbabwe to play in the Twenty20 even if Britain was going to let them come in and play, clearly the British government and most people who care about cricket do not want to see them in the Twenty20 tournament," said Hoey.

In a related matter, the government of Botswana has called on the regional grouping SADC not to recognize the re-election of Robert Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe. The country's foreign minister is quoted by Reuters as saying Botswana does not recognize the outcome of the presidential runoff election and would expect other SADC member states to follow suit. Also on Friday, the European Union called for quick fresh elections in Zimbabwe. This follows Robert Mugabe's "victory" in a widely condemned one-man poll last month. His challenger Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff race days before the June 27 poll citing violence against his supporters. Tsvangirai had won the first round of the presidential contest on March 29 but according to the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission failed to secure an outright victory.

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