ICC executive meeting January 22, 2009

Australia unlikely to grant Chingoka visa

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka at the ICC annual meeting in Dubai last July © Getty Images
Next week's ICC executive meeting, scheduled for Perth, could face cancellation after the Australian government warned that Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, would require "very particular grounds" to be granted a visa to enter the country.

"Australia's sanctions are an important mechanism for applying pressure on the Mugabe regime," a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman told AAP. "They send a clear signal that the government holds the Mugabe regime and its closest supporters accountable for the tragedy occurring in Zimbabwe."

Less than a month ago Chingoka was named by the Australian government on a list of 254 people banned from entering the country because of his links with the Mugabe regime. However, last summer, in the light of Chingoka being made unwelcome by the UK authorities, the ICC executive took a decision that all members should be permitted to attend meetings.

To that end, David Morgan, the ICC president, has been in regular contact with the Australian foreign office to try to persuade them to allow Chingoka into the country, just to attend the get-together. Sharad Pawar, who as well as being the ICC's vice-president is also India's agriculture minister, is also believed to have been leaning on the authorities.

Chingoka, who is the longest-standing member of the executive by more than a decade, could offer to stay at home, freeing the way for the meeting to go ahead without him, but it is reported he is reluctant to do this. He already agreed not to attend next summer's annual meeting at Lord's to allow that to go ahead, but is said to be insistent that the issue of where he can and cannot go be resolved.

If attempts to allow Chingoka into Australia fail then it will mean that the ICC executive cannot meet in Australia or England while he remains Zimbabwe's representative. The same applies to the ICC chief executives' committee while Ozias Bvute, ZC's managing director, is in office. Sources in Australia, however, maintain that the Australian government would be left acutely embarrassed were they to back down so soon after declaring Chingoka, as well Bvute, persona non grata.

The ICC on Thursday could not confirm whether Chingoka had applied for a visa to visit Australia, and attempts by the domestic news agency, Australian Associated Press (AAP), to contact ZC's headquarters were unsuccessful. An ICC spokesman did, however, tell AFP that the meeting would go ahead regardless of his absence.

Among other agenda items, the meeting is due to hear the results of the fact-finding trip to Zimbabwe headed by West Indies board chairman Julian Hunte in November.