In a recent development following the outbreak of coronavirus in India, it is said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are discussing a possibility of organizing the Indian Premier League behind closed doors. The final decision will be taken on March 14 at the tournament’s Governing Council meeting in Mumbai.
“We are discussing the possibility of playing Indian T20 League behind closed doors," an official said. "Compensation for teams to be discussed on Saturday."
While a postponement and or even a cancellation is expected to be a last resort given that there will be a massive loss in the revenue, an official from one of the Indian T20 League teams has confirmed that the franchises are fine with playing their games in empty stadiums.
"See, the gate money is no issue as these things are insured. As for the fans, it is disappointing, but we don't really have much of an option as we have to abide by the diktat of the Central Government and even WHO has declared the outbreak a 'pandemic',” the official said.
The only exception the teams want is to allow their overseas players to a part of the tournament. In a freshly issued visa restriction by the Indian government, it has been confirmed that no foreign player will be made available for the Indian T20 League before April 15.
"This makes it clear that if we have to have an IPL this year, it has to be behind closed doors. So now, would we rather want an Indian T20 League where fans can watch the games on television or we don't want a league in 2020? So, we are okay with that, but the BCCI must sit down and speak to the central government to make an exception and allow the foreign players to come in before April 15 as the league loses its sheen otherwise," the official said.
"See, the Proteas are already in the country, so as per the directive, they can easily stay back. Also, if you see, the Englishmen are already in Sri Lanka and the Kiwis are playing the Aussies in Australia, so they are anyway on the road. We just need the BCCI to sit down with the governmental departments and get us the clearance so that we can have the league with foreign players. The whole tournament will lose its charm if the foreign players are not there. It is the biggest cricket carnival in the world for a reason," the official concluded.
In the wake of new positive cases of COVID-19 in the country, the sports ministry has asked all national federations, including the BCCI, to follow the Health Ministry's advisory.
"All international events in India have been cancelled," Kiren Rijiju, India's Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, told reporters outside Parliament."
“But we are telling sports federations, we are telling all to comply with the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and formulated by a group of ministers which is constituted by the Prime Minister. So any sports body in India should ensure [the guidelines are followed]."
When asked specifically about the Indian Premier League, he said, "We are not stopping the game," he said. "We are just telling to ensure that there is no mass gathering. A precautionary step is very important for the health of the country."
Indian T20 League 2020 is scheduled to begin on March 29, with the defending champions, Mumbai slated against last year’s runner-up, Chennai at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam