Australian cricket tour of Zimbabwe cancelled

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cricket ball on grass.
Image: Matthew Bowden.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his government has decided to not let the national cricket team go to Zimbabwe.

"We don't do this lightly, but we are convinced that for the tour to go ahead there would be an enormous propaganda boost for the Mugabe regime," Howard told ABC television. "The [Robert] Mugabe regime at present is behaving like the Gestapo towards its political opponents, the living standards of the country are probably the lowest of any in the world and you have an unbelievable rate of inflation."

Reactions from Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe came quickly.

"The Australians are mixing politics with sport and the decision shows how desperate the Howard government is to isolate Zimbabwe," junior information minister Bright Matonga told Agence France-Presse.

"Australia is one of the worst human rights violators in this whole world. Look what they have done to the aborigines and yet they have the audacity to stand up and claim to have the moral authority to condemn us. This is also a racist ploy to kill our local cricket since our cricket team is now dominated by black players as we slowly transform cricket from being an elite sport."