I think, it is time to give a strong signal to Zimbabwe authorities that the
cricketing community will not tolerate the offensive attitude displayed by
them. Though cricket is only a game and should not be used as a tool to
exert pressure on domestic political issues(which are not similar to
apartheid btw), they rejection of visas of sports journalist to cover the
tour is an indication that they have crossed the line. Time to call off the
England cancel flight to Zimbabwe
Wisden Cricinfo staff
November 24, 2004
England's cricketers have cancelled their scheduled flight to Zimbabwe on
the orders of the England & Wales Cricket Board, and are meeting in a hotel
in Johannesburg to assess the situation, following the Zimbabwe government's
decision to refuse visas to 13 members of the accompanying British press
The team had been expected to fly into Harare today (Wednesday), but until
the ban on the journalists is rescinded, the tour seems set to remain in
limbo. "We're doing everything in our power to get that ban overturned,"
said the ECB's media manager, Andrew Walpole.
England's decision to stay put in South Africa followed a hint from Ehsan
Mani, the president of the ICC, that England may yet be able to cancel the
tour without incurring any financial penalty.
"This has caused great concern for us and come out of the blue," Mani told
BBC Radio Five Live. "It is not something that is covered in our protocols."
Mani added that the decision to go ahead with the tour still rested with the
ECB, but that no individual player would be punished if he chose to
Mani did, however, make plain the ICC's displeasure with the Zimbabwean
government and, by admitting his sympathy for the ECB's predicament, he
appeared to be hinting at a softening of attitude towards England's stance.
"We have a huge amount of sympathy for the ECB," he said, "[after] the way
this matter has been handled by the government in Zimbabwe."
Meanwhile, the British government have begun to be involved. Denis MacShane,
a Foreign Office minister and a former journalist himself, summoned the
Zimbabwean Charge d'Affaires in London to express Britain's "deep concern
that the government of Zimbabwe has denied access to British journalists
covering the England cricket tour of Zimbabwe."
He told reporters: "Our Embassy in Harare is also making representations. As
a former sports journalist, I would like to underline my view that this is a
reprehensible step. The UK has long been an advocate of media freedom in
Zimbabwe. This applies as much to sports journalism as any other kind.
"The government of Zimbabwe's actions are further evidence of its refusal to
allow the international and domestic media to operate freely in Zimbabwe. I
will urge the government of Zimbabwe to allow access to all British
journalists who have sought access to Zimbabwe to cover the tour."
The ECB itself was taking nothing for granted, however. "I expect the tour
to proceed despite the unfortunate situation regarding media accreditation,"
said David Morgan, their chairman. "It's unfortunate and embarrassing and
something that we will be pursuing on arrival there with the chairman of
Nevertheless, the ECB did confirm they had asked the ICC if the visas issue
was sufficient reason to cancel the tour. Thir*** journalists, including
those from The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the BBC, were among those
denied entry into Zimbabwe.
? Wisden Cricinfo Ltd
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