It is even said that the fate of the IPL is in jeopardy.
After affecting football, rugby and other sports across the globe, the COVID-19 threat has cast its shadow on one of the most popular cricket tournaments in the world, the Indian Premier League, as it has been confirmed that no foreign player will be made available before April 15 due to the visa restrictions imposed by the Indian government. In that case, the tournament, which begins on March 29, will lose near to 60-odd overseas players in the initial phase.
“The foreign players who play in the IPL come under the Business Visa category. As per the government’s directive, they can’t come till April 15,” a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
The World Health Organisation has rated coronavirus as a pandemic and in a fresh advisory issued by the government, all foreign nationals are banned from entering India till April 15th, meaning the foreign players will not be allowed to participate in the tournament till the date.
By the “Details of Visas Granted by India” manual issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, “Foreign nationals who are engaged in commercial sports events in India on a 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. Such a foreign national shall comply with all the statutory obligations like payment of taxes, etc.”
But according to a BCCI source, since the ministry does not mention any exemptions on “Business Visa” which the players use, they won’t take any chances.
“There is a clear distinction between employment Visa which has been granted an exemption and the business visa. So it’s better we don’t take the risk.”
A lot of the football leagues such as Ligue 1, Serie A and the UEFA Champions League have directed to play the matches behind closed doors.
As for the Indian Premier League, even if it is held as per the schedule, there are high chances that the matches will be played in empty stadiums, meaning that without the marquee signings, the tournament will lose its usual glamour. It is even said that the fate of the tournament will be decided on March 14 at the event’s Governing Council meeting in Mumbai.
The source further added, “The Future Tours Program is such that if the IPL is postponed, most of the marquee foreign players might not be available as after this April-May, there isn’t any window available. All other teams have bilateral commitments. At best, we can have it closed doors.”
The Road Safety Legends T20 meet will also be played in an empty stadium, and the matches that were scheduled in Pune have been cancelled after eight COVID-19 cases were recorded in the city.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam