Security concerns in the aftermath of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore have forced England to withdraw its shuttlers from the upcoming $120,000 India Open badminton tournament to be held in Hyderabad from March 24-29.
Badminton England conveyed their decision to pull out their national champion and the 12th seeded Rajiv Ouseph along with the 11th seed Carl Baxter from the tournament on Thursday night, tournament's organising secretary K Ch Punnaiah Choudhary told Hindustan Times from Hyderabad on Friday. The third entrant from England, Andrew Smith, had already withdrawn from the second edition of the tournament after the Swiss Open without giving any specific reason.
Even the first edition of the tournament had suffered due to the twin blasts in Hyderabad in September 2007. The organisers were then forced to postpone the event to April 2008.
The communication from Badminton England stated that: "in consultation with the Foreign Office in London, we are withdrawing the two players - Rajiv Ouseph and Carl Baxter - from the India Open".
The foreign offices of England and France had advised players to avoid traveling to the Indian sub continent after armed militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Pakistan earlier this month.
Five Sri Lankan players and a member of the support staff were injured in the attack while fourth umpire Ahsan Raza of Pakistan is still recuperating in a hospital.
Choudhary admitted that there were some concerns over the participation of the six-member French contingent including women's top seed and world number 4 Pi Hongyan. "There were some visa problems also but all those were sorted out earlier in the day and all of them are coming."
On the security front, the organisers have made special arrangements at the Hyderabad airport to get early immigration clearance the foreign players and they would be escorted in a special convoy to the hotel. "We will also have special police posts at the hotels, the Gopichand academy (where the Indian players would be staying) and the stadium," added Choudhary.