German volleyball teams confirm visit to SL despite Easter Sunday attacks

‘Terrorism cannot be allowed to undermine human bonds’ – Coach Anita Cyrus


The German volleyball teams


Two German volleyball teams have confirmed their visit to Colombo despite the Easter Sunday carnage, in a move, the players’ coach, Anita Cyrus, says is clearly meant to send a strong message to the world that "we should collectively refuse to be cowed into submission by terrorism, and stand by Sri Lanka in her critical hour of need".

The two teams plus the coach, reserve players and some volleyball enthusiasts, comprising a group of 27, from Berlin, Germany, made their flight reservations to Colombo after the bomb explosions in Sri Lanka.

The German volleyball players are billed to participate in friendly encounters with Sri Lankan teams during their visit in mid August under the ‘Connecting Sportspeople’ initiative of the Asian German Sports Exchange Program (AGSEP).

"We were shocked when we heard about the bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, but in the true spirit of sportsmanship and in the name of humanity, we were unanimous in our decision to go ahead with our visit to signal to the world that terrorism cannot tear us apart", Cyrus reflected.

Sports has succeeded in connecting people of diverse faiths and cultures. It’s an effective tool to overcome suspicions and hatred, she stressed.

"Senseless violence perpetrated by a few who don’t respect human values, anywhere in the world for that matter, cannot be allowed to undermine human bonds", she noted.

Expressing confidence that Sri Lanka will bounce back to normalcy with the security situation improving significantly, the German coach said that AGSEP, with its three decades of experience in bringing down German sports teams for events in Sri Lanka, has the expertise to handle their proposed visit with finesse.

Headquartered in Marawila, AGSEP has, over the past 30 years, organized more than 5,000 German sports tourists, including table tennis, football, volleyball and handball teams. In addition, more than 20 Sri Lankan national, mercantile, district and school teams have visited Germany in a reciprocal gesture under the program.

"We condemn the terror attacks in Sri Lanka, and by refusing to back out of the friendly sports encounters, we stand in solidarity with the people of this beautiful country to not only share their grief, but also to offer strength and courage to forge ahead, unafraid and uncowed", Cyrus outlined.

"We look forward to our visit to Sri Lanka", she enthused.

Social scientist, Dr. Dietmar Doering, founder Chairman of the AGSEP, appreciated the indefatigable efforts, especially by the police, security forces and the intelligence apparatus to ensure the safety of the people and foreign tourists after the Easter Sunday attacks.

In his view, the favorable geographical location of Sri Lanka, being an island with no land links to neighboring countries, is a positive factor in securing the country within a short period of time.

With ongoing security operations and the resultant arrests and discovery of weapons, explosives and safe houses in many parts of the country, every indication is that the terror network has been or will be completely dismantled soon. The input of foreign intelligence services of many friendly countries is also commendable, he noted.

"We are in constant touch with Germany and all our sports teams are briefed on the emerging developments in Sri Lanka. Prompt action taken to tackle the communal riots and restore normalcy are a plus point in convincing foreign governments that the negative travel advisories can be gradually eased", Dr. Doering said.

"I hope foreign missions will be fair and realistic in their assessment of Sri Lanka’s security situation, with of course due priority to the safety of their respective citizens", the AGSEP chief further said.

The Sri Lankan government should brief western diplomats on a regular basis on the improving security situation in the country and measures taken to ensure the safety of foreign tourists, Dr. Doering emphasized.

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