The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has asked the 2011 World Cup organising committee to consider shifting venues if the political climate in Pakistan worsens. Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are to co-host the World Cup in February-March 2011 but Lorgat said security concerns in Pakistan need to be monitored.
"It [alternate venues] is a consideration we have to give attention to," Lorgat said at a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss preparations for the tournament. "This is not something we discussed today, except to ask the organisers to consider alternate host city venues within the country as well as alternate country venues in the event something is not favourable in one of the particular host countries."
Pakistan has struggled to attract touring teams for a number of years because of security concerns. Australia postponed their full tour of Pakistan last year and India pulled out of a tour starting in January this year in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist strikes, following which Sri Lanka agreed to a split tour. Earlier this month the ICC decided not to stage the postponed 2009 Champions Trophy in Pakistan after several members expressed reservations about touring the country.
Lorgat did not think it was time to panic about 2011. "I think it's still a long way off to [the] World Cup," he said. "It is certainly a consideration to keep note of but it's way too early to be already concerned at this particular stage."
Relations have deteriorated between India and Pakistan after last year's Mumbai attacks but Lorgat did not think that would affect the World Cup. "This issue must be approached with an optimistic viewpoint, certainly because we still have some time in hand. I think it's way too early to be presumptuous and assume that things won't work," he said. "When we come close to the event, obviously we have to pay much more attention to the issues like safety, security and relation between the countries. But I can assure you at this stage we are planning a World Cup for all four countries."
Among other things, it was decided that, subject to a final approval from the ICC board, the opening ceremony for the event would take place in Bangladesh on February 19, 2011 and the tournament would be spread over six weeks, shorter than in the West Indies in 2007.
The planning committee has appointed Salim Butt as its managing director. Lorgat said a number of groups had also been created "so that we can deliver a successful, world-class event."
"I am pleased to see that planning arrangements are gathering speed," said Lorgat. "It is no secret that from an organisational point of view we are a little behind the clock at the moment, but I'm pleased to say the pace has now quickened and the various parties are stepping up to deliver what I fully believe will be a great celebration of world cricket."