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Emirates Cricket Board hopes to get fans in stadiums for Indian T20 League 2020

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Like every other sport to have gotten going after the global pandemic-induced lockdown, cricket too has had to make do without spectator attendance, while the players and support staff operate under strict safety protocols. However, as Indian T20 League 2020 gets ready to unfold in the UAE this year due to rising global virus cases in India, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has made known their desire to allow some spectator presence in the stadiums during the matches.

The UAE plans to work alongside the UAE government to discuss the feasibility of fan attendance, and pending the authorities' go-ahead, they will then take up the matter with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to fulfil their requirements.

ECB General Secretary Mubashshir Usmani said via e-mail, "As hosts, Emirates Cricket Board will work closely with the authorities to seek approval on what protocols need to be followed.

"This includes fan attendance, we will then discuss with the BCCI to assess their spectator requirements. We want our Asian diaspora, as well as the other expat and Emirati sports-loving fans in the UAE to be able to watch the action from the stands."

The BCCI's SOPs mandate testing of the players every fifth day during the course of the Indian T20 League, and players and support staff will only be allowed to interact with each other following a triple-negative test during their first week in the UAE.

With the UAE's sports-tourism industry standing to benefit from hosting the lucrative tournament, it is not surprising that the ECB and the local authorities are mulling over this move.

"We anticipate the direct and indirect flow-on-effects of hosting a successful Indian T20 League will bolster our country being a hub for top-level sports-events, sports-tourism, as well as highlighting the UAE’s professionalism in delivering such events," said Usmani.

It is not the UAE's first foray with the prestigious tournament, having hosted the early part of the Indian T20 League season in 2014.

Getting underway on September 10, the 53-day tournament will be played across three venues, including Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, and conclude on November 10.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran

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