Indian authorities on Thursday urged Indian Premier League (IPL) organizers to cancel the 13th edition of the T20 league keeping in mind the dangers of Coronavirus pandemic. The Indian government officials believe BCCI’s move to scrap the event will help the country to better tackle the situation of dealing with the COVID-19 threat. Earlier, the IPL organisers had already made it clear that they were ready to play in empty stadiums to keep the tournament on schedule. Also Read - Popular Comic Artist Juan Gimenez Dies of Coronavirus at 76
It is believed that the final decision will be taken on Saturday when cricket chiefs and franchisee owners will meet to decide whether the T20 league. IPL is one of the most followed T20 tournament’s in the world which features some of the world’s top players. Also Read - FWICE Makes Home-Delivery of 500 Ration Kits For Wage Workers, Writes to Shah Rukh Khan For Financial Help
Originally scheduled to start from March 29, the T20 extravaganza has been postponed to April 15 amid the Coronovirus crisis. Board of Control for Cricket, which has already slashed the prize money for the winners and runners-up, are ready to comply with every advisory to start the tournament on time. Also Read - India Registers 478 Fresh COVID-19 Cases in 24 Hours, Death Toll Reaches 62; Situation to Get Worse by April-end, Says Study
The Indian board had also canceled the final two one-day internationals between India and South Africa. he opening match was washed out without a ball being bowled.
A spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs briefed the media in New Delhi and urged the sports federations to decide wisely on holding events.
“Think it is for the organisers to decide whether to go ahead with it or not,” Dammu Ravi, additional secretary, MEA and coordinator for COVID-19, said.
“Our advice would be to not do it at this time but if they want to go ahead, it is their decision.”
The stakes are huge. The 60-game league is said to generate more than $11 billion a year to the Indian economy and Chinese mobile-maker Vivo paid $330 million to be the top sponsor for 2018-2022.
“We are keen to start the IPL on time even if it means without crowds,” a senior BCCI official was quoted by AFP on condition of anonymity.
“It could be TV-only as it is a medical emergency and we can do nothing about that.”
However, it will not be an easy task for the board to obtain visa for foreign cricketers as the new visa restrictions have closed the doors for 60+ international stars including the likes of Australia’s David Warner and England’s Ben Stokes.
Some activist groups have launched cases at the Supreme Court and courts in Chennai and Mumbai to halt the league.
On Thursday, Sports Ministry has made it clear that the fate of IPL can be decided only after the government comes out with a fresh advisory after April 15.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju reiterated that while it is the BCCI which decides on cricketing matters, the pandemic is something which has a direct effect on the loves of the citizens of the country.
“After April 15 the government will come up with new advisory and guidelines according to the situation. BCCI is a body that looks after cricket which is not an Olympic sport. But here it is not the question of the sporting event alone but a question of the safety of the citizens. In an event there will be thousands of spectators. So it is not just for the sports bodies or sportspersons it is for every citizen of the country,” Rijiju said.