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Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

India assures teams over safety for the Delhi World Cup

Major Dhyan Chand hockey stadium, New Delhi
A security guard looks on at the Major Dhyan Chand hockey stadium, New Delhi

Indian officials have reassured foreign teams that February's hockey World Cup in Delhi will be a safe tournament.

New security fears were provoked after last Saturday's bombing in the western city of Pune and alleged new threats from a group targeting sporting events.

Security measures have been implemented designed to ensure a safe World Cup and Commonwealth Games later this year.

"The arrangements for the World Cup are foolproof," Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told news agency AFP.

Home secretary GK Pillai echoed such sentiments and added that participating countries had been fully informed of the arrangements.

"We are in close touch with security liaison officers of all countries that are coming here to participate," said Pillai.

"So far, all of them have seen the preparations done by the Delhi Police and the Ministry of Home Afffairs. They are quite satisfied."

The safety of the squad and management team remains the EHB's primary concern and Performance Director David Faulkner, Chief Executive Sally Munday and Chairman Philip Kimberley will maintain their open dialogue with the authorities regarding the threat and security arrangements

England Hockey Board statement

In a statement released on Wednesday, the England Hockey Board (EHB) acknowledged awareness of the threats and confirmed it had been in touch with British High Commission in Delhi and with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office as well other security advisers regarding the England team's security.

"The credibility of the reported threats is still being assessed and at present plans for the team's participation in the World Cup remain unchanged," added the statement.

"The squad will continue with its preparations and will depart for its warm weather preparation camp in Doha, Qatar, later this week.

"The safety of the squad and management team remains the EHB's primary concern and performance director David Faulkner, chief executive Sally Munday and chairman Philip Kimberley will maintain their open dialogue with the authorities regarding the threat and security arrangements."

Australia, who are due to play England in the opening match of the tournament on 28 February, have said they also plan to attend, unless advised otherwise by their government.

However, New Zealand have delayed their departure for India until a security update has been received following reports that a Al-Qaeda-linked militant group were targeting sporting events.

"While Hockey New Zealand still plans for the Black Sticks men's team to attend the Hockey World Cup in Delhi, it has decided to keep the team in Perth until further notice," Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole said.

On Tuesday, the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online news website said it had received a warning from Al-Pakistan-based militant Ilyas Kashmiri reportedly warning international competitors against going to the hockey World Cup, the Indian Premier League cricket tournament that begins in March and the Commonwealth Games, to be held in the same city in October.

606: DEBATE

This follows on from last Saturday's bombing of a restaurant in Pune which killed 11 people.

A previously unknown Pakistan-based group, calling itself Lashkar-e-Taiba al-Almi, claimed responsibility for the attack and linked it to upcoming peace talks between India and Pakistan, set for 25 February.

The India and Pakistan hockey teams are set to play each other on the first day of the World Cup, which runs from 28 February to 13 March.

The eight-strong England badminton squad pulled out of last August's world championships in Hyderabad after reports of threats by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based organisation fighting against Indian control in Kashmir, from whom Lashkar-e-Taiba al-Almi are reported to have split.

It has been blamed for several terror incidents in India including the October 2005 bomb attacks in Delhi, which saw 60 people killed, and is alleged to have played a part in the armed raid on the Indian parliament in December 2001.

The group was also linked with the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, which killed at least 188 people.

Hockey India, which is organising the tournament, confirmed no team had threatened to pull out of the World Cup.

"As far as we know, all the 11 international teams are coming," said spokesman Anupam Ghulati. "There are no concerns at all."



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see also
Pakistan group claims India blast
17 Feb 10 |  South Asia
England fear World Cup readiness
15 Jan 10 |  Hockey
England keen to go to World Cup
14 Feb 10 |  Hockey
Pune in shock at restaurant bombing
14 Feb 10 |  South Asia
India restaurant bomb kills nine
14 Feb 10 |  South Asia
England admit India safety fears
09 Feb 10 |  Hockey


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