India pormises top securty to world athletes

NEW DELHI (AP) - India has pledged tight security for upcoming sporting events following terrorist threats against the Commonwealth Games, Indian Premier League cricket and the field hockey World Cup.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said India would not be deterred from hosting events.

"We are committed to provide security to everybody, including coaches, players, officials and whosoever participates" Chidambaram said Wednesday. "Nobody would be allowed to dictate terms to us."

But some athletes had second thoughts about competing in India after a bombing Saturday night killed 11 people in a bakery popular with foreigners in the western city of Pune.

Concerns grew after the Asia Times Online Web site published a message, reportedly from a Kashmir-based guerrilla commander linked to al-Qaida, warning countries not to send athletes to play in October’s Commonwealth Games, the upcoming IPL cricket season and the field hockey World Cup later this month.

"If they do, they will be responsible for the consequences," guerrilla commander Ilyas Kashmiri was quoted as saying.

In response, Australian cricket great Shane Warne said he was reconsidering playing in the IPL if the threats were proven to be credible.

Warne, who is set to leave later this month for India to captain-coach Rajasthan Royals, was quoted in Thursday’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Sydney that the threat by Pakistani-based militants had him worried.

"The threats of the past 24 hours have certainly got me thinking twice and is of deep concern to athletes across a number of sports," Warne said.

He advised the organizers to consider moving the tournament if the threats are credible.

"We moved it last year at short notice and it can be done, and there is no way organizers will risk the safety of players and officials," he said.

South Africa hosted the Twenty20 IPL tournament last year due to safety concerns in India relating to a general election.

Meanwhile, Indian hockey officials said the government was taking every precaution to secure the men’s World Cup starting Feb. 28 and police planned to brief embassy officials about their security plans.

"There is absolutely no need to panic. The security arrangements are foolproof and are taken care at the highest level," the Press Trust of India quoted hockey chief Narinder Batra saying Thursday.

Australia’s field hockey team confirmed Thursday it would take part in the World Cup after being assured there has been "no change to the threat environment" in the country.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation said it was sending two representatives to Delhi on Thursday to assess security, as the Pakistani government cleared its team to play.

The English Hockey Board said it planned to take part and the New Zealand field hockey association also said it would send its team, though it delayed its departure after the terror warning was made public.

Perry Crosswhite, head of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, said Australia was committed to attending the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.

"We are going to these games," Crosswhite said Thursday. "We have to continue this way. Unless something happens that does not allow the games to go ahead, we will have a team there.

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