National Games postponed over security fears


By Daily Times

* Olympic Committee says authorities not willing to give security clearance for games

LAHORE: Pakistan’s annual National Games – scheduled to be held in Peshawar this month – have been postponed due to security concerns, the National Olympic Committee (NOC) said on Tuesday.

The games are the latest sporting event to be affected by security concerns in a country that has been hit by a series of militant attacks, including the ambush of the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus last year.

NOC President Arif Hasan told a news conference after a meeting of the executive council that the security situation in the country and Peshawar had prompted the postponement of the games. “Teams are already not willing to come to Pakistan because of security issues and we don’t want a situation where a domestic event is also affected by some incident,” he said.

The National Games are the biggest domestic sporting event in Pakistan where more than 3,000 athletes take part in different competitions. Hasan said the relevant authorities in Peshawar were not willing to give security clearance for the games at this stage.

“We took the prevailing situation in the country into consideration and felt the best thing at this stage was to postpone the games,” he said. “There was also pressure from parents and associations to postpone the games and obviously nothing is more important to us than the safety of our athletes and officials,” Hasan added.

The National Games have already been postponed once before due to security issues. He said new dates in December were subject to security clearance.

There has been a surge of militant strikes in Peshawar since the army went on the offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) in their stronghold of South Waziristan on the Afghan border last October.

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