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27 May 2024

Australia pulls out from U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh

Australian players look dejected after the 2012 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Final between Australia and India at Tony Ireland Stadium on August 26, 2012 in Townsville, Australia. (Getty Images)

By Reuters

Australia have withdrawn from the under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh later this month because of concerns over the safety and security of their squad, Cricket Australia said on Tuesday.

Cricket Australia postponed a test tour of Bangladesh in October for similar reasons and chief executive James Sutherland said the situation had not improved.

"Regrettably, the advice from our government suggests that the security threat to Australians travelling to Bangladesh remains as high now," Sutherland said in the statement.

"Included in that is reliable information suggesting there is a high threat to Australian interests in Bangladesh.

"In the end, with all of the information and advice we have received, we feel we had no alternative other than to make this difficult decision."

Muslim-majority Bangladesh faces what appears to be a growing threat of militant violence and has seen a string of incidents last year including the shooting of three foreigners, two of whom died.

The International Cricket Council said preparations for the Jan. 22 to Feb. 14 tournament were continuing and Ireland had been invited to replace Australia.

"Whilst the ICC notes and respects the position of Cricket Australia... we are obviously disappointed with the decision," chief executive David Richardson said in a statement.

"The ICC takes its responsibilities around the safety and security of ICC events extremely seriously... and remains of the view it is appropriate for event planning to continue as scheduled."

Bangladesh Cricket Board President Nazmul Hassan told Reuters Australia's withdrawal was "unfortunate".

"We are ensuring highest security," he said. "We don't see any security issues in Bangladesh. You just can't stop games considering one or two incidents. Terror attacks are happening everywhere in the world. But games are taking place."

Sutherland said Cricket Australia had monitored the security situation in Bangladesh closely since pulling out of the test tour and their head of security had travelled to Dhaka last week.

Australia's soccer team played a World Cup qualifier in Dhaka without incident late last year after the cricket side withdrew from their tour.

Sutherland said in November, however, that a one-off match was quite different from a three-week tour.

The ICC is no stranger to dealing with security concerns in South Asia.

Pakistan have hosted all their international matches in the United Arab Emirates since a bus containing the Sri Lanka team was attacked by 12 gunmen in Lahore in 2009.

"The ICC's own security team, supported by an independent security agency, will continue to monitor closely the situation in Bangladesh," Richardson added.

"Security plans associated with an event of this size and stature are always subject to continual review to ensure that they remain appropriate and fit for purpose, and this event is no different."