18 Feb 2010

Games pull-out tipped if safety of athletes not assured

3:29 pm on 18 February 2010

The head of the New Zealand Olympic Committee says New Zealand may pull out of the Commonwealth Games in India if the safety of the athletes cannot be assured.

Al Qaeda has warned sport teams not to attend next week's Hockey World Cup, cricket's Indian Premier League and the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi which begins in October.

NZOC president Mike Stanley told Nine to Noon the organisation is waiting for a full assessment of the safety risk.

Mr Stanley said any decision to withdraw from the Delhi Games in October will be made in consultation with the Commonwealth Games Federation and other member nations.

The Olympic Committee also runs the Commonwealth Games team. Mr Stanley said it is taking terrorist threats in India very seriously.

Meanwhile, five New Zealand shooters taking part in a Commonwealth championship event have already arrived in New Delhi for two weeks of competition.

The New Zealand Shooting Federation says the threat from al Qaeda came after the team had left for India. It says the competitors are not using any additional personal safety measures and are happy with the security provided.

New Zealand heptathlete Rebecca Wardell says if athletes stay away from India because of security concerns, the terrorists will have won.

With eight months to go until the Commonwealth Games, Wardell says she is sure that officials have time to make a considered decision about whether it's safe or not.

She says she and other athletes have worked too hard on their sport to be easily frightened off from competing.

Other codes

Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hillary Poole says she will decide if the Black Sticks can go to India after a security meeting there on Friday.

The New Zealand Cricket Players Association is calling for the Indian Premier League in March to be moved to another country to avoid the risk of a terrorist attack.

Several New Zealand cricketers are set to play in the IPL, but the Players Association says the threat is grounds to move the tournament to another country.

It says last year's IPL series was shifted to South Africa because it coincided with a general election in India, which cricket officials thought could be the target of terrorists.

Chief executive Heath Mills told Morning Report the association has been concerned about security for several months and has engaged an independent security consultant.

Mr Mills said the consultant's report is due next week.