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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 15:31 GMT
Indian athletes barred
Indian captain Sourav Ganguly
India will play Pakistan at cricket in the World Cup
The Indian government has ordered its athletes not to compete in next month's South Asian Federation Games in Pakistan.

Officials do not want their stars taking part because of ongoing political tensions between the two countries stemming from a dispute over the region of Kashmir.

This is the first time India has slapped a ban on an event involving other countries.

It's unfortunate the government is denying permission to the Indian squad

Suresh Kalmadi
Indian Olympic Assn

The decision has been taken because they are concerned about the athletes' safety, according to the Foreign Office.

But Suresh Kalmadi, president of the Indian Olympic Association, has appealed to the government to reconsider its decision.

"It's unfortunate the government is denying permission to the Indian squad," he said.

"Non-participation in the SAF Games may affect the forthcoming Afro-Asian Games in India in October.

"The policy of the government so far has been to permit all sports between the two countries except cricket," Kalmadi added.

Despite a ban on bilateral cricket matches between India and Pakistan, there has been little opposition to the two countries' fixture in the World Cup in South Africa on 1 March.

And, last week, an Indian squash team travelled to Pakistan to participate in the Asian junior championships.

See also:

08 Feb 03 | South Asia
08 Feb 03 | Pakistan
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