Home >Sports >Sports News >Coronavirus: BCCI defers IPL till 15 April

NEW DELHI : The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has deferred the T20 cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League, till 15 April as a precautionary measure against the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. The inaugural match was scheduled in Mumbai on 29 March.

In a note on its website, Jay Shah, honorary secretary BCCI, said that BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and is taking all necessary steps to ensure that all people related to IPL, including fans have a safe cricketing experience. It added that BCCI will work closely with the Government of India along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and all other relevant Central and State Government departments in this regard.

The call was taken by BCCI, the organizer of the popular cricket tournament, amid mounting cases of WHO declared pandemic coronavirus and advisory against public gatherings. Although the ministry of external affairs on Thursday said that the decision to hold large sporting events rests with the organizers, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope earlier said the government could either postpone IPL or limit matches to TV audience only in view of the spread of the disease.

The Karnataka government had also written to the Centre seeking advice on whether IPL matches should be held in its capital Bengaluru. On Friday, the Delhi government took a decision to not allow IPL matches to take place in the city. “Keeping coronavirus in mind, we have decided that all the sports activities, seminars, conferences will be shut. All sports events including IPL will not be allowed. Whatever is being said about coronavirus, the one main thing is that the spread can be controlled through social distancing," deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said.

According to a person familiar with the development, while postponing the tournament will result in marginal loss to BCCI and Star Sports, the official broadcast partner, as some advertisers may not come on board again, the bigger worry is whether the situation will improve by April 15 to hold the matches. “If all else is okay, a tournament can be put together in 15 days. But right now there is too much uncertainty around the tournament," he said.

For starters, a lot of the players, coaches and production crew come from other countries. “But owing to restrictions on different kinds of visas, these people may find it difficult to come in," said the person declining to be named.

Also, it is still not clear whether the matches will be open to spectators. If IPL will be a TV-only audience show, there will be significant loss of gate receipts. “Besides, if the tournament is delayed, we may not be able to play in some cities owing to too much heat or monsoons," said the person quoted above. “In all, there is too much ambiguity right now," he added.

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