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 Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 16:49 GMT
Bacher to check out Zimbabwe
World Cup boss Ali Bacher
Ali Bacher expects the matches to go ahead
World Cup director Ali Bacher has announced that he will visit Zimbabwe to make sure it is safe to hold matches in the troubled African country.

Zimbabwe is due to host six matches during the World Cup but is currently affected by political unrest and is threatened by famine.

World Cup organisers have refused to move the games from the country unless the security situation deteriorates.

Bacher said that he had met the South African police to discuss the matter.

What's happened in Zimbabwe will not in our view undermine what we believe will be a wonderful event

World Cup boss
Ali Bacher

"During that meeting I was told that our police and the Zimbabwe police are in close, regular contact," he said.

"We can expect a safe and secure Cricket World Cup in Zimbabwe during that period in February.

"I'm going up there within the next 10 days, just to get a feel of what the situation is."

Despite the uncertainty in Zimbabwe, Bacher insisted that it would have no effect on the World Cup.

"What's happened in Zimbabwe will not, in our view, undermine what we believe will be a wonderful event for South Africa, Africa and international cricket," Bacher said.

Protest vow

Critics of President Robert Mugabe have been calling for a boycott of the six World Cup matches to be played in Zimbabwe in protest at human rights abuses allegedly committed by his government.

The English and Wales Cricket Board decided on Tuesday to go ahead with their fixture in Zimbabwe on 13 February despite pressure from the British government to boycott the match.

The Australian government said on Thursday that it had virtually given up trying to persuade the Australian team to boycott their match in Zimbabwe.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) have also set up a committee to monitor the security situation there.

A coalition of Zimbabwean groups vowed on Thursday to hold widespread anti-government demonstrations during the World Cup.

Calls grow for World Cup matches in Zimbabwe to be boycotted

Zimbabwe decision

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