DHAKA: Bangladesh’s cricket chief has said that next year’s Twenty20 World Cup is threatened by the country’s deadly political violence, warning there may only be weeks to save the tournament.
The 16-team competition, due to take place between March 16 and April 6, should be the biggest sporting event ever staged by Bangladesh. But the country has been gripped by violent protests in recent weeks, with opposition supporters insisting that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stand aside ahead of elections due next year.
More than 74 people have been killed since late October. “If this situation prevails, then any big tournament or participation of any big country will be under threat,” Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan told reporters late Monday. “This must end in January and preferably in December.”
A team of International Cricket Council (ICC) inspectors declared last week that they were “happy” with security arrangements but said they would continue to monitor the situation. However, the dangers posed to teams was underlined at the weekend when a small bomb exploded outside the West Indies’ Under-19 team’s hotel in the port city of Chittagong, prompting them to cut short their tour.
Bangladesh is also due to host a tour by Sri Lanka in January before then staging the Asia Cup, a 50-over tournament starting in February which also features India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“The quicker this political situation improves the better because the Sri Lanka tour is in January and then we have the Asia Cup. It needs to be resolved before that,” said Hassan, who is a ruling party lawmaker.
Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the BCB’s chief executive, told reporters that the ICC had asked the board to relay them an update on the situation. “We will send [it to]them accordingly,” he said.
An ICC spokesman told Agence France-Presse on Monday that it was “actively monitoring” the situation in Bangladesh, stressing that it gave the highest priority to the safety of all participants in ICC events.
The violence has affected almost every city in Bangladesh, including the three host cities for the T20 tournament—the capital Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.