New Zealand sports minister Grant Robertson on Friday expressed hopes that Bangladesh’s cricketers and supporters continue to feel safe to return to the country, after their narrow escape from the Christchurch mosque terror attack. Speaking at the New Zealand Cricket’s awards on Thursday evening in Auckland, Robertson said that he had written a letter to the Bangladesh Minister of Youth and Sport and the Bangladesh Cricket Board president expressing relief that the players and the staff members all safely returned home.
Robertson said: “Violence and hatred shown by one individual must not be allowed to destroy the friendship and respect that the New Zealand and Bangladesh cricket teams and our nations have long shared.”
“My hope is that in time the players and supporters will feel safe enough to return to New Zealand and I know that they know that they will be welcomed with open arms,” he said.
Robertson further added that he hopes that cricket will play a crucial role in bringing the country together. “There is hope to be found in dark days and cricket and sport will once again play a critical role in drawing together our country at this time.”
He further expressed his grief for the families who lost their loved ones in the attack. “We cannot know your grief but we can walk alongside you at every stage of that grief, and we can show you the aroha and the manaakitanga for which New Zealand is known and our resolve that we will find light from this darkest day. We will be with you forever,” he said.
The Bangladesh cricket team’s tour of New Zealand was called off on March 15 after the players had a narrow escape from a shooting attack on a Christchurch mosque which left 50 people dead.
The BlackCaps skipper Kane Williamson, who was named the Player of the Year, after the awards ceremony, added: “It had been a nice competitive series for a month and for things to end the way it did, cricket as a whole became insignificant. There was an opposition team we’d spent time with on the park who have pretty much witnessed what went on and felt threatened in a place you want anybody to feel comfortable. To end like that, it was such a shame and I know all the guys felt terrible.”
“It becomes so much about your neighbour, and just the love and care you send for the people that are involved and the victims and the victims’ families in Christchurch and the Muslim community not only there in Christchurch but all around New Zealand. I do think it comes down to the good human qualities that are so important,” he added.
Bangladesh are next scheduled to visit New Zealand in October 2020 for a Twenty20 series.