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Australia pull out of Champions Trophy hockey
July 24, 2007 17:26 IST
Olympic field hockey champions Australia have pulled out of the six-nation Champions Trophy tournament to be held in Pakistan later this year citing security fears.
The Hockey Australia board made the decision not to attend the December 1-9 tournament based on Australian foreign ministry advice against traveling in Pakistan, Hockey Australia chief executive Linden Adamson said on Tuesday.
"It was a board decision ... the players and coaching staff have been made aware of it, and at this stage I haven't heard any adverse reaction to it," Adamson said.
It is the third time Hockey Australia has decided against sending its men's team to Pakistan for the annual tournament because of security fears. Australia also declined to play the 2004 tournament in Lahore [Images], and the 2001 event, which was subsequently shifted to Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Adamson said the decision would adversely affect Australia's Olympic defense at next year's Beijing [Images] Games in August.
"It's a pretty serious decision to take if we think it's going to affect our Olympic preparations, but we can't risk the safety of the players and staff," he said.
While missing this year's Champions Trophy, Australia is expected to attend the 30th edition of the tournament, slated for Rotterdam in June next year.
Australia's decision comes after a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks by Islamic militants in Pakistan following an army raid on the pro-Taliban Red Mosque in Islamabad earlier this month.
A six-man Australian security delegation has reportedly traveled to Pakistan to assess security and facilities for proposed cricket tours by Australia A and an Under-19 team in September and October, as well as a trip by the national team in March or April, 2008.