Spike of COVID-19 infection in India puts IPL start in jeopardy

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With only a week left before the start of the much anticipated return of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 in India, the country recorded a spike in COVID-19 infection that puts the cash-rich tournament in jeopardy. At least 18 individuals involved in the tournament was reportedly contracted the virus, which saw an alarming rise in the past week across the country, especially in Mumbai.

India on Sunday records this year’s biggest single-day jump of 93,249 COVID-19 cases. Several cities, including Rajasthan and Maharashtra have imposed stricter measures following the spike “alarming rate of growth” in infections and deaths, according to reports. Meanwhile, several members of the ground staff team at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai had tested positive for the Covid-19 infections

Half a dozen of BCCI event managers have also been infected with the coronavirus. Delhi Capitals’ Axar Patel and Royal Challengers Bangalore opener Devdutt Padikkal have reportedly contracted the virus and currently on quarantine. The 14th edition of the IPL 2021 time table starts in Chennai on 9 April, with RCB taking on defending champions Mumbai Indians.

Despite the alarming reports, BCCI Vice President Rajeev Shukla reaffirmed that the tournament will go ahead “without any problem”. Shukla claimed that only six venues have been chosen for the tournament and a bio-bubble has been set up, while the number of members of the squad has also been increased with all the precautions being taken if infection rose in the future.

“So, keeping in mind all the precautions, the tournament will go on without any problem. Bio-bubble has been created, those who are in bio-bubble, they are getting tested now and then and I think the tournament will take place without spectators,” Shukla told a local news outlet. Shukla also said that there is no decision has been taken so far regarding the shifting of Mumbai matches to other venues.

“It will take place in Mumbai because all the arrangements have been done. In the future, as you know there are standby venues also if there is any problem then we will think but currently, there is no such decision which has been taken. The first stand-by stadium is in Lucknow then Hyderabad and Indore are there and some others also. Nothing has been decided and it will take place as per the earlier decision.”

According to reports, Indore and Hyderabad have been kept as stand by venues for the IPL in case the COVID situation spirals out of control. Mumbai is scheduled to host 10 games of the cash-rich league. It is learnt that four franchises — Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals — have set up their base in Mumbai as of now.

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