SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva has explained the reasons behind the movement of the Asia Cup from the island to the United Arab Emirates. He stated the political turmoil in the country had led to a loss of confidence on behalf of the stakeholders, thereby causing the drastic decision to be taken.
The 15th edition of the Asia Cup, which will begin on the 27th of August and has its final scheduled for the 11th of September, was recently shifted to the United Arab Emirates. Initially, the tournament had been awarded to Sri Lanka when political protests broke out in the country. Eventually, they grew violent and posed security threats to the visiting nation as well as other stakeholders involved, causing the Asian Cricket Council to intervene and instead shift the tournament to the middle-east.
Nevertheless, Sri Lanka Cricket had expressed co-operation with the decision, stating it would still be involved as an organizer in the competition and will help ensure the event gets undertaken smoothly without any hiccups. A week after the announcement was made, the governing body's secretary Mohan de Silva has explained to the press the reasons why such a drastic decision had to be taken just a month ahead of the tournament.
"They felt that the situation in Sri Lanka was not conducive to garnering the confidence of the stakeholders," he was quoted as saying by India Today.
"Not only the member countries, but a tournament of this magnitude requires other stakeholders, like the broadcasters, sponsors, etc. What they felt was that the negative publicity shown all over the world, with the petrol queues and all that, didn't help our cause," he stated.
The Asia Cup is the largest cricketing tournament in the men's game which is not directly organized by the ICC and is held every two years. The format alternates between ODIs and T20s, depending upon the next ICC marquee event. For instance, since the ICC World T20 is scheduled after the Asia Cup, the tournament will take place in the game's shortest format. This edition will feature India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who have all earned direct spots into the group stages. A mini-qualifying tournament will be held ahead of the main draw and will see Kuwait, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE battle it out for the sixth spot in the event.
Thus, with a total of nine teams participating and the tournament running over a course of two weeks, no risks could be taken in terms of security ad well-being of everyone involved. In the fortnight leading up to the notification that the tournament had been shifted, political tension had escalated steeply in the island nation and had seen its then President flee the country forcing the installation of a new Premier. With protesters in control of the President's house as well as the streets, there was no other way but to take the required measures.
"Sponsors were finding it difficult to get insured, and the security clearance for broadcast crews to enter Sri Lanka was also an issue. The delegates who wanted to come from the other countries also weren't prepared to come," SLC CEO Ashley de Silva mentioned.
Sri Lanka will take on Afghanistan in the opening encounter of the tournament at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium and will be hoping to salvage some hope for their countrymen with a successful performance amidst times of crisis.