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Australia Steps Up Pressure On Cricketers To Cancel Zimbabwe Tour

Some Zimbabwean cricket fans are urging Australia Cricket to carefully weigh any decision to pull out of its scheduled September tour to Zimbabwe as this would have an adverse impact on the future development of cricket in the country.

Australian cricketers are feeling official pressure from Canberra to scrap the tour over alleged gross human rights abuses by the government of Zimbabwe.

Reports quoted Australian Prime Minister John Howard as saying his government would pay a US$2 million fine to the International Cricket Council for Cricket Australia if the organization would agree to cancel the tour.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said he would press cricket officials this week to scrap the tour, which he said would bolster President Robert Mugabe.

Pressure to cancel the tour was increased by a visit to Australia by Sekai Holland, an official of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement For Democratic Change who sought medical treatment there after being beaten while in Zimbabwean police custody.

Holland is married to an Australian citizen.

But Zimbabwean cricket fan Brian Goredema told sports reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he opposes an Australian boycott as it would simply further isolate Zimbabwe's struggling cricketers.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...