New Zealand said on Wednesday its men’s hockey team will delay travelling to the Hockey World Cup in India following a reported threat against foreign sports people travelling to the country.
“While Hockey New Zealand still plans for the Black Sticks men’s team to attend the Hockey World Cup in Delhi, it has decided to keep the team in Perth until further notice,” Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole said.
The decision follows a report on the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online news website which said it had received a warning from Al-Qaeda linked militant Ilyas Kashmiri following a deadly bombing in India at the weekend.
The Kashmir-based extremist reportedly warned international competitors against going to this month’s Hockey World Cup, next month’s Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket, and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.
The report could not be verified.
Poole said the decision had been made to delay the team’s departure scheduled for Monday from Perth, where it is due to play two warm-up Test matches against Australia this week.
“This decision has been made in light of recent threats made against the Hockey World Cup the Black Sticks Men are scheduled to compete in next week,” Poole said.
The safety of the players, coaches and team management was paramount, and further assessments would be made before sending the team to Delhi for the World Cup, which starts on February 28.
“We have been monitoring this situation all along. But the events over the past 24 hours have lead us to reassess the situation,” Poole said.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee, which is responsible for the New Zealand team going to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, said it was aware of the reported threat.
“We are seeking government advice on the nature and validity of the threat and will take action as appropriate,” an NZOC spokeswoman said.
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the government was closely monitoring the situation.