Amid the global health crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a “pandemic” with the rising number of cases and fatalities recorded all around the world. In response to “alarming levels of inaction” in combating the virus spread per WHO chief, India’s the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare ordered new visa restrictions that put India Premier League (IPL) foreign players in doubt.
In the meeting held at Nirman Bhavan, the decision was made following the rising number of cases in India, recording 60 positive cases at the time of writing. According to World Health Organization (WHO), more than 100,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, the vast majority is in China, reaching over 4,000 deaths globally with 70,000 recoveries
IPL franchises face a huge blow as this directive from the government, in an attempt to contain the virus from spreading in the country, suggests that “all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020.” This restriction will be in effect tomorrow. About five-dozen overseas players contracted for the tournament.
According to “Details of Visas Granted by India” manual on the Ministry of Home Affairs, Clause 40 (xv) specifies: “Foreign nationals who are engaged in commercial sports events in India on contract (including coaches) like Indian Premier League, Indian Soccer League, etc. with remuneration. They may be granted ‘B-Sports’ Visa with multiple entry facility for 13 appropriate period.”
In the latest announcement of the Health Ministry, B-Sports is not specified. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) remains positive that this new restriction will not impact the league. The BCCI response in this government issued advisory. “Please give us two days. It’s not possible to give you concrete details at the moment,” a senior Board told a news portal.
“The present scenario is a huge challenge for the BCCI-IPL and it is one where the circumstances are changing every few hours, and the BCCI has no control over these circumstances. As is usually the case in such situations, the BCCI would be in regular touch with the concerned departments to take the best possible course of action in the interest of the game, the players, the fans and the league,” he added.
Earlier this week, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that “discussion” over IPL postponement is underway following the then outbreak, now a pandemic. “There is always a danger of spread (of contagious diseases) when people gather in large numbers. Such events can always be organised later. So discussion is on whether to postpone the IPL,” Tope told reporters
Meanwhile, a senior BCCI official confirmed through a media outlet that the board would follow the precautionary measures recommended by the Health Ministry and disseminate these directives to all the stakeholders that include the players, franchises, airlines, team hotels, broadcast crews and everyone else involved in the running of the tournament.
In an attempt to contain the virus, the BCCI through an official confirmed that “every person availing international flights will be screened for coronavirus at the port of entry. That is the biggest health security measure” A Board official also added that “BCCI will strictly adhere to any health advisory that government will issue.”
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