Women's world squash championships abandoned amid controversy

Kuala Lumpur: The women's world squash championships in Malaysia have been called off, the tour's governing body said, in another blow for the sport after the men's team event in Cairo was cancelled for security reasons. Plans for the women's tournament have been dogged by confusion after a row erupted between the event's promoters and Malaysian authorities over claims of funding problems and security threats.

An emailed announcement by the London-based Professional Squash Association (PSA) said the championships, which were set to begin on December 11 in Kuala Lumpur, "will not be staged in 2015 following notification from the tournament promoters". The announcement was dated December 5 but does not appear to have been posted on the PSA's website or social media. Controversy erupted in Malaysia last week after the PSA said the competition's promoters, Hallmark Events Group, had advised against staging the games due to "alleged security concerns".

The PSA's announcement on the cancellation gave no reason for calling off the event. Hallmark's recommendation had angered officials in Malaysia, who said they knew of no security risks. Prime Minister Najib Razak called for an explanation from the promoters, and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin accused them of "blackmail", in comments reported by Malaysian media over the weekend.

Khairy said Hallmark had admitted to authorities that funding problems were the real sticking point, and that the promoter had submitted a new offer to stage the event if Malaysia would provide sponsorship and money for security. Hallmark has previously told AFP it could not comment on the issue. Squash authorities last week announced that the men's world team championships, which were set to run concurrently in Cairo, were cancelled after a number of national teams pulled out over security fears in Egypt.

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