Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Caribbean countries warned over World Cup legislation delay

AP , GEORGETOWN, GUYANA

Guyana's parliament said on Friday it will soon take up legislation addressing logistics for next year's cricket World Cup, one day after organizers warned host countries they could have their matches taken away if they fail to approve the special measures.

The nine Caribbean host countries have until the first week of November to approve a package of laws addressing tourist visas, security and copyright issues.

"If they play politics with this one, we could end up losing the games and all that investment that people have made. Simply nobody will take the chance," Chris Dehring, chief executive officer and managing director of the World Cup, said on Thursday at a forum in Jamaica.

The clerk of Guyana's parliament, Sherlock Isaacs, said the legislation will be introduced Oct. 30. Lawmakers have not expressed any opposition and the measures seemed assured of passage.

Only Barbados and St. Kitts have passed the legislation, which would allow visitors who obtain a tourist visa in one host country to travel freely among the others. The laws, also known as "sunset legislation," will expire after six months.

About 100,000 fans are expected in the region during the March 11 to April 28 tournament -- the first cricket World Cup ever held in the Caribbean.

In a statement on Friday, the St. Lucia prime minister's office said the parliament would meet to approve the legislation on Oct. 24. The measures were introduced to Jamaica's legislature more than two weeks ago but lawmakers there have yet to act on them.

The other hosts are Antigua, Grenada, Trinidad and St. Vincent.

Dehring said countries that fail to approve the legislation -- which also covers the sale of tickets and the broadcast of tournament play -- will risk losing their matches to standby islands such as Bermuda.

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