Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mathieu Bastareaud Alleges Attack In Wellington, NZ (updated)

French rugby player Mathieu Bastareaud has been injured in an alleged street attack following France's 14-10 second test defeat in Wellington.

The french player said he was beaten up by four thugs as he got out of a taxi. He was left with a black eye and four stitches to his face after the alleged beating which took place early Sunday. There are some reports that one of his assailants filmed the attack on his mobile phone. Bastareau left the country without filing a complaint with the police.

"Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton said the incident was a wake-up call for the country."reported by
(update: see also a later post - NZ Tourism chief steps down)

The chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Union said his organisation was "bitterly disappointed" about the attack. "(It's) not good for New Zealand. I'm sure the whole country would join me in sending our apologies to him."

According to Nigel Cass, Rugby New Zealand 2011 general manager for tournament services said that he "hoped New Zealand's safe reputation had not been badly tarnished since the attack on Bastareaud."

Safe reputation? In 2008 Irishman Robbie Irishman Robbie O'Brien, 31
was injured in an unprovoked attack in Westport, just a week after a group of tourists were attacked because of their accents.

At the time tourism leaders were urging operators not to be afraid of warning people of the risks of travelling in New Zealand (see external links : Attack sparks tourist warning and tourist attacks bad for business)

Attacks on tourists are hardly 'isolated incidents', see the recent high profile attacks on British man Stuart Martin, and a British tourist who wished he'd been warned about the violence. And we all remember Karen Aim, the Scottish woman who was brutally murdered by a 14 year old as she walked home alone in Taupo one night.

Crimes against tourists have become so alarming that external safety warnings about New Zealand have been issued to Asian and Dutch tourists

This type of attack doesn't bode well for the World Cup with thousands of unprepared fans and teams descending en masse and caught off guard in what they believe to be a safe country. How many more similar crimes will we see in the coming 2 years?

It's a sad state of affairs when concerns about a country's reputation are so highly valued that visitors are put at risk as a result. Will we see revised personal safety guidelines issued to visitors following this high profile attack?

Our best wishes go to M. Bastareaud for a quick and full recovery.

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