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Cricket and Terrorism – A Huge Problem
Cricket and terrorism go hand in hand in today’s world.
No sport can consider itself immune from terrorism. The sight of masked gunmen opening fire on the bus of the Sri Lankan cricket team in the Pakistani city of Lahore provides such evidence.
The audacious manner in which the terrorists carry out the attacks is truly shocking. The echoes of the November attacks in Mumbai are clear for all to see.
For many people, the attacks may come as no surprise. The sub-continent is an area not short of conflicts. Sri Lanka has a long history of civil war dating back to 1983, and India and Pakistan are constantly at odds over the Kashmir region. The cultural importance of cricket in these regions makes the sport a prime target.
Terrorism and cricket have collided before. In 2002, the New Zealand cricket team narrowly avoided a bomb blast outside their hotel in Karachi.
The harsh reality is that sporting events have always been and in the future even more will be targets of terrorist groups.
The 1972 Munich massacre saw 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team kidnapped and killed by a Palestinian militant group. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, an American citizen detonated a bomb, killing two and injuring hundreds.
Terrorism and sport have a history, but some questions still need to be answered.
What makes sport such an attractive target? Why is the threat of terrorist attacks likely to increase at sporting events? What can be done to curb the threat?
The motives of terrorist organizations are to gain maximum exposure for their efforts, sending strong messages to the world. Sports coverage can be the ideal platform. A convenient analogy may explain why.
On September 11, 2001, the spectacular scenes looked more like a Hollywood movie of “Independence Day” than a real experience. Two of the foundations on which Western society was built collapsed in shocking fashion for audiences around the world.
Real time, mass communication, graphic coverage via network television giants amplified the terror. In these moments, time simply stands still. Everyone remembers where they were when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. 911
The Lahore attacks have paled in scale since 9/11. However, the effects are the same. Parallels can be drawn very easily.
Cricketers are huge stars who compete on the world stage through massive television networks to capture audiences in their millions. It is easy to understand why terrorists want to take this stage and make it their own.
No cricketers were killed, but the perpetrators will be pleased with the global headlines
This goes further than cricket. Modern media sports coverage gives any terrorist group the exposure they seek.
The attacks in Lahore will inspire terrorist groups to carry out similar acts in the future.
Addressing this issue with proper security measures should be at the top of the agenda of any sporting institution – be it the 2011 Cricket World Cup or the 2012 London Olympics.
Security in Pakistan was unacceptable. The Pakistan Cricket Board has paid the ultimate price, losing the right to co-host the 2011 Cricket World Cup and making international sport in Pakistan a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.
The challenge facing other sports institutions to address security concerns is difficult. Additional costs must be incurred to ensure the safety of the athletes. Sports stars need safe environments to perform to the best of their abilities.
Sport has a unique ability to unite those who are otherwise divided. Sports institutions around the world must send a strong message in response to those who choose terrorism.
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