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England regrets World badminton pullout, report

England regrets World badminton pullout, report

Britain's sports minister and a leading badminton official have expressed regret to India for the England team's sudden withdrawal from the world championships in Hyderabad earlier this month.
Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy and British Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe apologized for England pulling out on the eve of the tournament due to security concerns, Indian media reported Tuesday.
Indian badminton organizers and the government criticized England's decision, saying adequate security arrangements had been made for the event.
The Indian Express newspaper reported that Christy wrote a letter of apology to the Badminton Association of India, which organized the Aug. 10-16 tournament.
Press Trust of India said Sutcliffe had telephoned his Indian counterpart, Manohar Singh Gill, last Friday and assured support when New Delhi hosts next year's Commonwealth Games.
"On behalf of everyone connected with Badminton England, I want to convey my apologies that the England team felt it necessary to withdraw from such an event and to reassure you that our decision was in no way a slight to the organizing committee or the people of India," Christy was quoted as saying in his letter to V.K. Verma, president of the Badminton Association of India.
"This decision will not affect our future intentions to travel to India," Christy added. "The England badminton team (is) very much looking forward to visiting India in October 2010 for the Commonwealth Games."
The newspaper quoted Verma as saying England's badminton officials "now understand that they had reacted without having full facts and were regretful."
"This apology should repair the damage caused to India's reputation as a safe venue," Verma said.
When announcing the withdrawal, Christy said his team had not been given "appropriate levels of security" for the tournament. England team members later voiced concern over security.
But John Ahlert, security consultant for badminton's world federation who had worked with organizers for several months, later said he was satisfied with India's security arrangements.
There were no serious security issues during the championships, although security generally for sports events in South Asia have been heightened since the attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan, which killed six police officers and a driver in March.
Seven cricketers, an assistant coach and a match official were injured.
In November, terror attacks in Mumbai left 164 people dead and forced the cancellation in India of a cricket tournament involving provincial teams from five countries.
The second edition of the lucrative Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 cricket tournament which attracts stars from around the world, was played in South Africa because the timing clashed with general elections and security forces would have been too stretched handling both.