New Zealand PM against proposed cricket tour of Zimbabwe
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand's proposed tour of Zimbabwe has been condemned by the country's prime minister, who believes a visit to the African nation would be neither safe nor healthy for the players.
The Black Caps are due to play three one-day internationals in July under the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) programme, but Prime Minister John Key said on Tuesday that as well as moral objections, there were other reasons not to tour.
"There are security risks for our players, there is the risk of cholera and quite frankly we don’t support that regime and we’ve made that quite clear," Key said on TV3.
The centre-right National-led government, like the Labour-led administration it ousted last year, has said it does not favour the tour and would consider ordering the team not to go.
Labour opposed a tour in 2005 but did not prevent it going ahead, but Australia’s government did step in and veto a tour two years later.
New Zealand Cricket could face an ICC-imposed fine if it opted against touring, unless ordered by the government, but Key believes the sport’s governing body needed to be realistic.
"You have to ask the question, "Why would the ICC be fining New Zealand for not sending their cricket team to a country which is so dysfunctional that it is a high risk if our players go there?’," he said.
New Zealand Cricket has said it wanted to meet the government on the issue.
Zimbabwe has agreed to skip this year’s Twenty20 World Cup in England to end a deadlock over demands for its suspension from international cricket because of Robert Mugabe’s government.
Last month, the ICC said Zimbabwe needed more time before they could hope to return to test cricket.
The troubled African nation has not played tests since January 2006 after the side was left depleted following disputes between senior players and the administration.