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Last Updated:  Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Pakistan cancels South Asian Games
Pakistan has cancelled the South Asian Federation Games after postponing them three times, a Pakistani sports body says.

The opening ceremony of the 1999 games in Kathmandu's Dashrath stadium
The last South Asian Games were held in Nepal
The South Asian Sports Federations approved the decision, citing international tension surrounding the war in Iraq as the reason.

Pakistan was due to host the ninth federation games 18 months ago but postponed them after the attacks in the US on 11 September 2001.

The country expects to lose up to 70 million rupees ($1.2 million) from the cancellation.

Border tension

Although a new date was set for March 2002 the games were postponed because of tension on the border between Pakistan and India.

The third attempt to host the games was scheduled for 29 March this year but the war in Iraq was underway and they were deferred again.

President of the Pakistan Olympic Association, Syed Wajid Ali Shah the AP news agency: "We have decided to cancel the 9th edition of the SAF Games because we don't know when the political situation will improve internationally."

The South Asian Sports Federations took the decision at a meeting in Rawalpindi which was attended by four of the eight countries due to participate in the games.

Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal all agreed to cancel the games but India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives were absent.

Chairman of the organising committee, General Arif Hasan, said he believed they were ready to host the games but that the decision was not in their hands.

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