Hyderabad: Despite India’s Home Minister personally assuring all the participating teams viz-a-viz adequate safety measures during the forthcoming World Badminton Championships in Pune, England on Sunday announced their decision to pull out of the tourney, scheduled to begin tomorrow.
England cited a “specific Lashkar-e-Toiba threat” against the elite event as the reason for its pull-out.
Barely 24 hours before the event starts, Badminton England Chief Executive Adrian Christy said the decision to pull out was taken after taking advice from the Foreign Office and British High Commission.
“This was an incredibly tough decision and one we didn’t take lightly. After the Olympic Games, this is the most prestigious Championships in the world but we were not prepared to risk the safety of our players, coaches and staff in what we felt could have been a very volatile environment,” Christy said in a statement.
The England team, which also includes an Olympic silver medallist in Nathan Robertson, will return home immediately.
“We are extremely grateful for the speed in which the BWF and the Organising Committee reacted to the concerns following the threat. We have carefully considered the comments made by the local police authorities and we know that they have the best interest of all competitors in mind,” Christy said.
“We have also listened to the advice from the Foreign Office and British High Commission. We have been in constant dialogue with them over the past couple of days.”
“The conclusion is that safety is of paramount importance and therefore, with great regret, the team will be returning home immediately,” he added.
Ian Moss, England’s Performance Director, said the shuttlers were disappointed as they prepare to leave India without taking part in the tournament.
“It is a disappointing outcome, especially after we had enjoyed a very good preparation at our holding camp in Doha, Qatar, last week.
“Our athletes were extremely well prepared for these Championships but, at the end of the day, personal safety must take priority over performance,” Moss said.
“This was a unanimous squad decision and is not reflective of the efforts made by the Organising Committee to create the safest environment possible for all athletes,” he added.
The England squad included singles players Andrew Smith and Rajiv Ouseph besides Anthony Clark, Nathan Robertson, Chris Adcock, Donna Kellogg, Gabby White and Jenny Wallwork who were scheduled to take part in doubles.
Home Minister P Chidambaram had earlier assured all that the alert issued from his home ministry was a routine one and there was no specific information suggesting imminent threat to the tournament.
“I’m satisfied that the World Badminton Championship will take place in complete security. No one needs to have any apprehensions on this score,” Chidambaram said.