The India Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over the weekend announced that stadiums and sporting complexes will be allowed to open without fans as the lockdown in the country extended to May 31, shedding light to the fate of the virus-hit Indian Premier League (IPL). However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not hopeful to its return anytime soon.
“Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open, however, spectators won’t be allowed,” read one of the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines to be followed during the lockdown. At the time of writing, India has recorded nearly 100,000 cases of infected from the virus that killed more than 3,000 in the country. There’s no mention of IPL in the statement, leaving the fate of the tournament to BCCI.
The BCCI, on the other hand, remains doubtful on its return with BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal, in a statement, shortly after MHA’s announcement, saying that the governing body “will wait further before organizing a skill-based training camp for its contracted players” as “restrictions on air travel and movement of people till May 3” are yet to determine.
“The Board reiterates that the safety and well-being of its athletes and support staff is paramount and will not rush into any decision that can hamper or jeopardize India’s efforts in containing the spread of the virus,” Dhumal said. “In the meantime, the BCCI will study guidelines at the state level and will work in sync with State Cricket Associations to chalk out a programme for skill-based training at a local level.”
The 13th edition of the Twenty20 competition, due to begin on March 29 and pushed back to April 15, was postponed indefinitely. Last week, Dhumal confirmed that United Arab Emirates, which had hosted the first leg of IPL in 2014, has emerged as one of the options of the Board of Control for Cricket in India following the offer that the governing body received from the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
“The BCCI Office-Bearers will continue their interactions with the team management and draw up a suitable plan for the entire team once the situation further improves,” the statement further added. Earlier in the day, former Australia captain Mark Taylor said that the ICC T20 World Cup is likely to be postponed, thus opening the doors for BCCI to host IPL in that slot.
As the T20 World Cup is likely to be postponed, the BCCI will get an opportunity to organise the IPL in October-November, participation of overseas players might not be a problem if cricketing action gets under way at all. The ICC T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in Australia from October 18 to November 15. The BCCI is yet to comment in this matter.
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