Updated: April 8, 2021 2:18:33 pm
The recent rise in COVID-19 positive cases within the Indian Premier League (IPL) ecosystem has forced the BCCI to tweak its pandemic plans. With the tournament starting on Friday, the Indian cricket board has approached the government with a request to allow teams separate security and check-in points at airports.
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What is the reason for this request?
While BCCI has been able to create bio-bubbles at team hotels and stadiums that keeps the IPL stakeholders sufficiently isolated from the general public, airports remain the corridor of uncertainty. While the jumbo franchise squads do fly on chartered flights, they do need to go through security checks with the common public. BCCI fears that this break from the sanitised environment can expose the players and support staff to the virus.
Key member of the Mumbai Indians coaching staff and former India wicket-keeper Kiran More tested positive after landing in Chennai for the tournament opener on Friday. More, along with the MI squad, was in the Mumbai bio-bubble and had tested negative before boarding the flight. Five days after landing in Chennai, he was found to be infected. A possible explanation is that More could have been exposed to the virus during travel.
Why was Mumbai Indians allowed to resume training despite More’s positive test?
The team was kept under isolation for two days, and after testing them daily and no positive cases getting detected, the BCCI decided to allow players to resume training. As More’s interaction with MI batsmen and bowlers was minimal, the BCCI and franchise medical teams decided to allow players to train for the inaugural IPL match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
How often will the teams travel during IPL 2021?
The upcoming edition has five venues — Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Chennai — making air travel imperative. Such is the schedule that each team will travel thrice. Airports thus become a place players and others associated with the IPL will have to frequent, exaggerating the risk of virus exposure.
What is BCCI’s other concern?
Mumbai and Delhi have witnessed a significant spike in Covid-19 cases over recent days which has forced a night curfew (though the IPL has been exempted from the restriction) while the other three venues are also experiencing a fresh wave of infections. With teams moving in and out of cities with a high number of Covid-19 cases, the teams can be at risk at these airports.
What are the other precautions that BCCI is taking?
The Board conducts tests on each team daily. At the same time, a bio-bubble integrity officer has to ensure no one leaves their room without a mask. Players will also have to wear masks while leaving the ground. BCCI also claims to have a Bluetooth tracking device for each team as the board has tied up with Gem3s Technology Private Limited this season, but four franchises confirmed to The Indian Express that they haven’t received any Bluetooth device till date.
How was it done during last season when UAE hosted the IPL despite a pandemic?
The BCCI managed to pull off an impressive logistical and organisational feat by holding an almost-incident-free IPL in the UAE in September-November last year. But there were only three venues there and the relatively shorter travel distances meant commuting could be done on buses.
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