Despite repeated assurances by the International Cricket Council (ICC) that both the semifinal venues — Old Trafford, Manchester and Edgbaston, Birmingham — have been declared “no flying zones”, an aeroplane with direct reference to a political issue flew over Edgbaston during the Australian innings of the second World Cup semifinal on Thursday.
The aeroplane carried a banner which read “World must speak up for Balochistan” referring to a province in Pakistan.
As per reports, the aeroplane was spotted many times with the banner trailing behind the moving plane. The plane was, reportedly, circling overhead during the Australian innings. It repeatedly did so for at least five times.
Notably, this is not the first time that such an incident has happened in the ongoing World Cup. A banner supporting Balochistan was also spotted during Pakistan-Afghanistan league match. However, that was at a different venue – Headingley.
At the same venue, when India were playing Sri Lanka, banners which read “Justice for Kashmir”, and “India stop genocide & free Kashmir” were spotted in the sky. Yet another aeroplane with a banner urging people to “stop mob lynching in India” was witnessed during the match.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the local organisers including the Police had declared the airspace over Old Trafford, a “no-fly zone” when India played New Zealand in the first semi-final of the World Cup.