Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 20 News List

New Zealand PM ready to block Zimbabwe tour

AFP , WELLINGTON

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said yesterday he was prepared to stop the Black Caps’ tour of Zimbabwe if necessary and was unsympathetic to calls for the tour to go ahead.

New Zealand are scheduled to play three one-day internationals in the African nation in July.

The only way they can call off the tour and avoid heavy International Cricket Council sanctions is if the prime minister intervenes.

Zimbabwean Sports Minister David Coltart has said the New Zealand Black Caps are obliged to tour and has appealed to Wellington to give his coalition government a chance.

But Key told Television New Zealand there were genuine security and health risks for the players.

Asked if he was prepared to step in Key said: “Potentially, yes. There are some options that I am working through at the moment.”

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive Justin Vaughan has said the final decision on the tour rested with politicians.

“It’s a political question and requires a political solution; it’s not a decision NZC should have to make,” Vaughan said.

“We are a group of cricket administrators. We might have strong feelings about the situation in Zimbabwe but judging international politics is not what we’re about,” he said.

New Zealand last toured Zimbabwe in 2005 after then prime minister Helen Clark strongly urged NZC not to go but stopped short of ordering the team to stay at home.

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