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Australia government wants Zimbabwe tour scrapped

May 07, 2007 18:53 IST
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The Australian government has called on the national cricket team to cancel their planned tour of Zimbabwe for later this year.

Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said he would meet with Cricket Australia officials this week in the hope of persuading them to scrap the three-match tour, scheduled for September.

"My view is that the tour shouldn't go ahead," Downer told reporters on Monday.

"If it were to go ahead then Australia, which is after all the world championship team, would give Zimbabwe's regime and its President [Robert Mugabe], who has been the patron of Zimbabwe Cricket Association, a propaganda victory," Downer said.

"We shouldn't do that -- this is a horrific regime in Zimbabwe and we should take a stand against it."

The Australian government raised the prospect of cancelling the tour last month amid increased international criticism of Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 but is accused of political and human rights abuses and economic mismanagement.


Cricket Australia faces a potential $2 million fine from the International Cricket Council (ICC) if they refuse to tour Zimbabwe, but the government has already indicated it would pay any fine.

"Normally I'm not a great fan of bringing politics into sport but in this particular case I think it is appropriate," Downer said.

Zimbabwean cricket has been in crisis for the past few years but is still recognised by the ICC as one of only 10-Test playing nations.

The ICC has threatened to fine countries who refused to tour the African state, but Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGill lodged a personal protest in 2004, refusing to take part in his team's tour and telling selectors he could not "tour Zimbabwe and maintain a clear conscience".

Shortly after his announcement, Australia's tour was cancelled and no fines were issued. Later that year, England's planned tour of the country was also postponed after the ICC took away Zimbabwe's Test status, which has since been returned.

In 2005, the New Zealand government refused to issue visas to the Zimbabwe team and declined to pay the ICC fine for cancelling the reciprocal tour, which eventually went ahead.

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