SYDNEY, February 18 – Shane Warne says threats of a terrorist attack have him "thinking twice" about playing in this year's Indian Premier League, reports said on Thursday.
Fresh security worries have surfaced ahead of the field hockey World Cup later this month in New Delhi, the glitzy Twenty20 cricket tournament in March-April and October’s Commonwealth Games.
This week the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online news website said it had received a warning from Al-Qaeda-linked militant Ilyas Kashmiri about attacking sports events in India.
The developments have prompted the Australian legspin great to urge the organisers of the IPL to consider moving the tournament if threats of a terrorist attack are proven to be credible.
Warne is set to leave later this month to captain-coach the Rajasthan Royals.
"The threats of the past 24 hours have certainly got me thinking twice and is of deep concern to athletes across a number of sports," Warne told the Daily Telegraph.
"If the threats are proven to be real, then organisers of the IPL may look at moving the tournament.
"We moved it last year at short notice and it can be done and there is no way organisers will risk the safety of players and officials."
South Africa remains the most viable option as they hosted the IPL last year due to safety concerns in India relating to the country’s general election.
"I love the country and I’m committed to the Royals but obviously if I’m given the advice (that) it’s unsafe that will prompt a serious rethink," Warne said.
One source of security concern was eased this week when the leader of a right-wing Hindu group withdrew a threat to prevent Australians from playing in the IPL because of attacks on Indians living Down Under.
The group said it had dropped its opposition as "Indian brothers living in Australia asked us to lift the ban as it would aggravate their problems".
The ultra-nationalist party last month vowed to stop "kangaroo cricketers" from participating in the IPL in Mumbai and Maharashtra state until the attacks stopped.
India also vowed Wednesday to "protect every player" in upcoming major sports events in the country after a weekend bombing and alleged new threats.
"We will provide full protection to every player, every coach, every official who participates in the forthcoming (field) hockey, cricket and Commonwealth Games," Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters.