The mixing of politics and sports is “very unfortunate”, Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam said on Tuesday.
His statement followed Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for the exclusion of Sri Lankan players from the Indian Premeir League (IPL) matches in Chennai.
“We are concerned about mixing of politics and sports. Now that is something very unfortunate. It should not happen in our region. Our concern is with regard to Sri Lankans visiting India including sportspersons and their security. Our cricketers are precious and their security is most important,” Kariyawasam told news channel CNN-IBN.
The IPL Governing Council on Tuesday evening decided to keep Sri Lankan cricketers out of Chennai in view of the opposition from Jayalalithaa. This decision will make Sri Lankan cricketers skip the matches to be held in Chennai in view of the security concerns in Tamil Nadu over the atrocities carried out against ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka during the war against Tamil Tigers that ended in May 2009.
Jayalalithaa wrote the letter following the increased political tension in the state over the treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka. She has said in the letter that the state government will permit IPL matches only if the organisers promise that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff will participate.
Eight of the nine IPL franchises have 13 Sri Lankans in their roster while Chennai, home to Super Kings, were scheduled to host 10 IPL matches this season.
Ten Sri Lankan players, barring Chennai Super Kings’ Akila Dananjaya and Nuwan Kulasekara, will be missing just one match, the away encounter in Chennai. Dananjaya and Kulasekara, however, will miss around eight home matches of Super Kings.
Jeevan Mendis and Mahela Jayawardene are playing for Delhi Daredevils, Sachithra Senanayake for Kolkata Knight Riders, Lasith Malinga for Mumbai Indians, Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews for Pune Warriors, Kusal Janith Perera for Rajasthan Royals, Muttiah Muralitharan and Tillakaratne Dilshan for Royal Challengers, and Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera for Hyderabad Sunrisers.
Jayawardene will captain Daredevils while Sangakkara will lead Sunrisers.