England decision under fire

England decision under fire

William Hague, the opposition Conservative party’s shadow foreign secretary and a senior British politician, criticised the pullout, saying: “Wherever possible we should err on the side of going ahead with normal life, in the face of terrorist threat.”

Although the British Foreign Office stressed that it had not advised the team to drop out, Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said he supported the decision.

“You have to support them, because the players’ security has to come first,” Sutcliffe said.

But the minister added that he would be speaking to the Indian authorities about the issue and Britain would do all it could to support India ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year in New Delhi.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “The decision to withdraw from the World Championships was entirely Badminton England’s. They took this decision based on their own assessment of the situation on the ground.”

The decision to pull out was also panned by British sporting authorities.  Anne Smillie, chief executive of Badminton Scotland said: “I don’t necessarily think they’ve made the right decision. I think perhaps they have over-reacted. Certainly Scottish players and our team manager, who are in Hyderabad, feel confident that security is at its best.” She added: “The impact it will have on the English players is that they will have to live with the knowledge that they’ve pulled out of a major world event.”

Scotland has two players in the tournament and Wales has three. Reacting to the Scottish criticism, Badminton England Chief Executive Adrian Christy said: “I absolutely respect the decision of any nation to stay. We took a decision based on facts that were available to us at the time.”

He said the team had received warning of a threat “not just generally to the tournament but to specific top stars”.

“I would suspect, on the back of our decision, security has been strengthened, but that wasn’t there when we needed it.”

When shown television footage of stringent security measures in Hyderabad, he told the BBC: “When we arrived on Friday we sought (security) assurance. “The level of security that we see now wasn’t available or not evident at the time. It was at the point that players’ mindsets changed.”

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