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Last Updated:  Friday, 24 January, 2003, 14:35 GMT

Zimbabwe games get green light
Ali Bacher and Malcolm Speed visited Zimbabwe this week
Ali Bacher and Malcolm Speed

The International Cricket Council has announced that the six World Cup games in Zimbabwe are to take place as planned.

The ICC Executive Board came to their decision after a second visit to the country to assess security arrangements on Wednesday.

The news means that England must play their first match of the tournament in Harare on 13 February despite opposition from the British Government.

It will be safe to play cricket in Zimbabwe
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed

"The Board confirmed that from a safety and security viewpoint there is no reason to relocate games from Zimbabwe," said ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.

"Cricket is played in dangerous places. That is a fact of life for cricketers and many of them don't like it.

"But given the level of security surrounding the players and officials it will be safe for them to play cricket in Zimbabwe."

Mr Speed admitted that the situation in Zimbabwe had deteriorated since he made his first visit in August.

And he confirmed that matches could still be relocated up to "four or five days" before they are due to take place if the security situation deteriorates still further.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said it accepts the decision to play in Zimbabwe.

"We respect the ICC board's decision and willabide by it," a spokesman said.

"However, if there's a further deterioration in the security situation inZimbabwe then we will ask the ICC to review the position again."

There are still concerns surrounding safety for the two matches to be staged in Kenya.

Games in Zimbabwe
10 Feb v Namibia, Harare
13 Feb v England, Harare
19 Feb v India, Harare
24 Feb v Australia, Bulawayo
28 Feb v Netherlands, Bulawayo
4 Mar v Pakistan, Bulawayo
The ICC will have another meeting next week after "seeking further information" to decide whether the Kenyan matches can go ahead.

Earlier, the ICC announced that it had reached a truce with India over a row concerning players' personal endorsements.

The dispute has been effectively put on ice until the tournament is over, but India's cricket authorities will be held responsible if any official World Cup sponsors sue.

The World Cup starts on 8 February, with the opening ceremony in Cape Town to be performed by South African president Thabo Mbeki, and features 54 matches.

Links to more World Cup stories


BBC Sport's Nigel Adderley
"Over 400 police officers will be at each match"

ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed
"Safety and security are still a priority"

World Cup chief executive Dr. Ali Bacher
"It's very important non-cricketing issues get off the front page"


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