Sport on sub-continent threatened after attack on Sri Lanka cricketers
Scenes of bloodshed on the streets of Lahore after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus instantly ended any hopes Pakistan might have held of coaxing the cricketing world back to its grounds.
Repercussions from Tuesday’s incident that left six players wounded and five policemen dead may also be felt through the entire region for years to come (read our main report here and click here for reaction).
Security arrangements for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, to be hosted in neighbouring India, are certain to be re-examined and beefed up, while there will be renewed concerns about the merits of staging part of the 2011 Cricket World Cup in Pakistan.
Almost all of the world’s top cricket nations have already refused to tour Pakistan because of fears about the safety of their players.
Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998 and were joined by England, New Zealand and South Africa in boycotting last year’s Champions Trophy in Pakistan.
The International Cricket Council agreed to move the tournament to Sri Lanka, but are already having second thoughts because it is during the monsoon season.
India were supposed to be touring Pakistan now but pulled out in the wake of recent militant attacks in Mumbai. Only Sri Lanka agreed to take their place.
India and Sri Lanka, co-hosts for the 2011 World Cup, have not been immune to attacks on their soil but Tuesday’s incident will surely heighten concerns about staging any events in the region.
Australia and West Indies both refused to play matches in Sri Lanka during the 1996 World Cup after bombings in Colombo while New Zealand cut short tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka foe similar reasons.
England suspended their tour of India last year after the attacks on Mumbai, which killed about 170 people, but agreed to return on the promise of tightened security.
Cricket is the most popular sport on the sub-continent but the effects are already being felt in other sports.
Hockey’s Champions Trophy has already been moved away from Pakistan and tennis officials ordered increased security at this year’s Chennai Open and the future of sport in the region now faces a bleak reassessment.