April 5, 2021 6:40:50 pm
With the COVID-19 spike in Mumbai coinciding with the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) later this week, the BCCI finds itself in a spot. The rising number of cases in the city has seen the state government drop enough hints that harsh pandemic-time restrictions — even a lockdown isn’t ruled out — could be enforced to curb the surge. This has sent the BCCI think tank in a huddle, but they insist that moving the IPL out of Mumbai is not an option for them as of now.
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Will the spike in COVID-19 cases in Mumbai and a possible lockdown impact the IPL?
So far, there is no threat to the April 10-25 Mumbai leg of the IPL. With BCCI deciding to host games without spectators and all stakeholders — players, coaches, support staff, officials — inside a bio-bubble, the state government has exempted the IPL from the new restrictions put in place.
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“There is no gathering anywhere (for the games). The matches will be allowed without the audience and without any contact with anybody (outside the bio-bubble),” Aseem Gupta, secretary of Relief and Rehabilitation, said. There are also those in the Maharashtra government who believe that the IPL might actually prompt people to stay indoors.
Why is the BCCI reluctant to shift the IPL from Mumbai?
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has made it clear that the IPL will go ahead as per schedule since a last-minute shift will prove to be a logistical nightmare.
Mumbai is currently hosting four IPL teams — Chennai Super Kings, Punjab Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals. The city’s deep-rooted cricket culture ensures that it has three world-class training facilities — at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai Cricket Association–Bandra-Kurla Complex (MCA-BKC) and Thane’s Daddoji Kondev Stadium. Very few cities in the country can match Mumbai’s cricket infrastructure.
There are other problems too. Each IPL team comprises about 40 members. In case the BCCI moves the IPL to another city, it will have to arrange for nearly 200 rooms for the four teams. Additionally, they will need 30 more rooms for its umpires and staff. Joining this potential mass exodus will be the television production team and that can be adjusted in not less than 100 rooms.
Where is the big problem?
In case the IPL is shifted, the eleventh-hour mass movement would also have to factor in the travel. Arranging chartered flights for the entire IPL bandwagon from Mumbai would not only be expensive, but also tough to organise. Any kind of air travel would mean coming in contact with security personnel. Since most teams have already entered a secured bio-bubble, this change of plan would mean a fresh isolation protocol of minimum three days at the new venue. Moreover, in normal circumstances BCCI needs close to seven days to put things in place to host an IPL game.
What are the other COVID-19 measures put in place by BCCI?
The BCCI has decided to test everyone in the bio-bubble on a daily basis instead of every third day, as was the case during the last IPL season. The decision was taken after 10 Wankhede Stadium grounds staff and Delhi Capitals all-rounder Axar Patel tested positive. There is now a separate bio-bubble for grounds staff and curators.
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