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Australian PM Bars Cricket Team From Touring Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe cricket faced a major hurdle Sunday, when Australian Prime Minister John Howard barred the Australian cricket team from touring the country, citing gross human rights abuses.

The International Cricket Council said since the decision to cancel the tour was made by the government and not the cricket team, it will not fine the cricket body the estimated US$2 million penalty.

A senior official of the Morgan Tsvangirai led opposition M-D-C faction, Sekai Holland, who is currently in Australia for treatment following an assault on her in March, had advised the Aussie Government against allowing the cricket team to tour Zimbabwe saying the cricketers could be subjected to the same fate she was, while police hands in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Cricket had not yet responded to the ban, but Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga is quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper, as saying the tour ban was racially motivated.

Sports commentator Michael Kariati told reporter Marvelous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the ban had upset some sports fans and this could lead to a further decline of interest in sports in the country.

More reports from VOA's Studio Seven For Zimbabwe...