Britain's withdrawal from World Badminton comes under attack

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> vBadminton England's decision to withdraw from the World Badminton Championships in Hyderabad came in for criticism on Monday from the opposition party.

Updated: August 10, 2009 15:36 IST
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Badminton England's decision to withdraw from the World Badminton Championships in Hyderabad came in for criticism on Monday from the opposition party though the British Government defended it with the sports minister saying he would explain it to India.

Britain's Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said his government took the decision as the security of the players was paramount.

"You have to support them, because the players' security has to come first. I will be speaking to Indian authorities about the issue and Britain will do all it can to support India ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year in New Delhi," the minister said.

Opposition Conservative's shadow foreign secretary William Hague criticised the decision to pull out, saying, "Wherever possible we should err on the side of going ahead with normal life, in the face of terrorist threat."

England Badminton team withdrew from the World championships in Hyderabad citing "a specific Lashkar-e-Toiba threat" against the elite event.

Its eight-strong team included Nathan Robertson, the Olympic silver medallist.

Badminton England said security at the tournament in Hyderabad was "very poor" and players did not feel safe. However, the Indian authorities and the organisers reacted angrily, claiming there had been no threat.

Scottish and Welsh players are to remain in the championships and the head of Scottish Badminton said England had "perhaps overreacted".

Anne Smillie, chief executive of Badminton Scotland, said the English team had "perhaps overreacted." "I don't necessarily think they've made right decision," she was quoted as saying in 'Daily Telegraph'.

In March, two of England's badminton players withdrew from the Indian Open in Hyderabad, citing security concerns. Adrian Christy, the chief executive of Badminton England, said the team had "carefully considered" information from local police authorities.

"This was an incredibly tough decision and one we didn't take lightly," he said.

"We went to the arena, to practise and considering the level of concern we had, security was very poor. After the players had experienced that they felt they couldn't put themselves back in the performance mindset." He claimed the threat stated the target could be "top badminton stars".

"We clearly felt that was a risk to us. The Foreign Office told us that security would be heightened due to next week's Independence Day celebrations which were mentioned in the threat," Christy was quoted as saying by 'The Guardian'. "Six or seven weeks ago I wrote to the international federation asking for a security report that would ensure our players safety."

"We had a verbal report that everything was fine. When we arrived we realised that this clearly wasn't evident. The security was non-existent," Christy said. The British Government, meanwhile, said it had not advised the team to drop out.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said, "The decision to withdraw from the World championships was entirely Badminton England's. They took the decision based on their own assessment of the situation on the ground."

Media reports here quoted the Badminton World Federation saying it was "sorry and disappointed" that England had made their decision "based on false information".

Thomas Lund, the chief operating officer, said, "It's unfortunate that the English team made their decision before we had had an opportunity to properly brief the team management."

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