Badminton: England defend India tournament pull-out



LONDON, Katherine Haddon - England's badminton team defended Monday its decision to pull out of the world championships in India, saying security in the host city of Hyderabad was lax and denying they had overreacted.
Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson said he feared the team could have faced an attack like the one in which the Sri Lankan cricket team was targeted in Lahore, Pakistan, in March, when eight people died.



Badminton: England defend India tournament pull-out
The side left India amid security fears and arrived home late Sunday, but the decision has prompted claims that they have over-reacted from India's Home Secretary G.K. Pillai as well as the Scottish team.
"We don't think we have overreacted, we were very clear with our expectations of security before the championships," said Badminton England's chief executive Adrian Christy.
"We went to Hyderabad with every intention of being met with appropriate levels of security considering recent attacks that have taken place in the country," he added at a press conference in Milton Keynes, northwest of London.
"We were not particularly impressed with the level of security that we were faced with".
The decision to pull out has been supported by Britain's Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who has said he will speak to the Indian authorities this week to find out what had happened.
Christy offered his apologies to organisers but said there had been "real concern" for the safety of athletes and staff.
He said the decision -- which was taken within 10 hours following a newspaper report -- "doesn't affect how we feel about returning to India for the Commonwealth Games next year".
Christy added he was "disappointed" with comments from the Scottish team, which accused England of having gone too far.
Meanwhile, Robertson said he feared being caught up in an attack like the one which hit the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan earlier this year.
"Reports were saying it would possibly be along the same lines as the cricket attack," the player told the press conference.
"We were in a bus on some of the back roads, we didn't have any armed guards, any anything... I'm just glad to be home in one piece".
The team flagged up concerns which included the fact that no accreditation was needed to get into the stadium while access to their hotel was also relatively simple.
Badminton England said they were aware of a risk that players' rankings would drop because of the decision to withdraw, while Christy said they had had no discussions of a possible fine.
Sutcliffe, the sports minister, told the BBC: "It's a decision that's not taken lightly, but you have to support them, because the players' security has to come first.
"We want next year's Commonwealth Games to be successful, and we want to support the Indian government in having a great games."
Scotland coach Dan Travers said that since the England team left, security had been tightened, meaning "you are virtually a prisoner in the hotel."
"Now if you want to go in a taxi anywhere, it's with an armed guard," he told the BBC.
"Everything is just tightened and I think it's taken a wee bit of the gloss off a visit to a country like this because now you are virtually a prisoner in the hotel."
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Monday, August 10th 2009
Katherine Haddon
           


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