Recent terror attacks in cricket playing nations have heightened safety concerns
Britain may be dealing with a national threat level of “severe” but officials are confident they have the security measures in place for the International Cricket Council (ICC) 2019 World Cup in England and Wales rated a “moderate” security risk.
Recent terror attacks in cricket playing nations have heightened safety concerns regarding the World Cup, which features 48 one-day international matches in 46 days starting with tournament hosts England against South Africa on Thursday.
In March, 51 worshippers were shot dead in mosque attacks in the New Zealand city of Christchurch while more than 250 people died in Sri Lanka as a result of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday.
“When those incidents happened so close to the tournament, quite understandably that did cause some nervousness,” Jill McCracken, the World Cup safety and security director, told reporters at the Oval on Monday.
Public events in Britain have not been immune from terror incidents in recent years, with 23 people killed in a suicide bomb attack after a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande in Manchester two years ago.
McCracken, explaining the security position regarding the World Cup, added: “The UK national threat level sits at ‘severe’, which means an attack is likely.
“But we also work with security services to assess the impact of the tournament itself and they have come to us with a bespoke threat for the event which is ‘moderate’ -- the second lowest on the scale of risk.
“The threat in the UK is always around crowded places, they look for mass casualties, but when you look at the security measures that we have around the venues, around the teams, and the background work we do, that actually reduces threat.”
Meanwhile the ICC said there had been 3.2 million applications for tickets, with 110,000 women and 100,000 Under-16s expected to attend.
Officials are keen to attract family audiences to matches and players have been reminded of the need to set a good example while on the field.
“The definition of sledging (verbal abuse of an opponent) is always difficult,” said ICC chief executive David Richardson.
“But one point we’ve emphasised in all team briefings is to uphold a good standard of behaviour.
“Any malicious or personal comments won’t be tolerated. Over the last 12 months it’s improved significantly, generally teams are pretty well behaved.”
Richardson, a former South Africa wicket-keeper, added he hoped players and fans at this year’s men’s World Cup would follow the example of the 2017 Women’s World Cup in England.
“The Women’s World Cup was a good example of that family atmosphere,” he said.
“Everyone is welcome, male and female, young and old. Any racism or homophobia, there’s zero tolerance for that.”