LONDON - The organisers of England's participation in next year's Commonwealth Games yesterday denied a report that they are considering pulling out of the event in India due to security fears.
The Daily Telegraph, quoting unnamed sources, said police and security advisers fear the England team will be targeted by Pakistani militants and feel the safety of athletes cannot be guaranteed.
There is therefore "virtually no chance" of England sending a team, in what would be the first time that England has not competed in the 80-year history of the Games, to be held in New Delhi in October, said the paper.
But Commonwealth Games England chief Ann Hogbin said: "That is definitely not the case. Our current and strong intention is to field a team for the Games in Delhi next year.
"Of course we have a duty to care to the athletes and other team members, which we take very seriously.
"Despite having been given extensive briefings from the relevant authorities we have not received any indication that we should not participate in the Games and we will continue to work hard to put in place the best possible arrangements for our team."
Responding to the Telegraph report, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it had "not advised any of the British teams" against competing in the Games.
"We are aware that the Commonwealth Games Federation had some concerns about preparations for the Games," it said.
"We continue to work closely with the Indian authorities, who are doing everything they can to ensure a safe and secure Games."
The report comes after the England badminton team pulled out of the world championships in India in August, saying security in the host city of Hyderabad was lax, and sparking criticism that they were overreacting. Paul Stephenson, the metropolitan police commissioner, visited the Indian capital earlier this month to inspect the Games sites and was said to have voiced "serious concerns" about the security arrangements, the newspaper said.
"If you are an English athlete there is no way you are going to want to risk your life competing at the Games," a senior government source was quoted as saying. - Sapa-AFP