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Explained: Why MHA guidelines on opening sports stadia won’t help IPL restart

Lockdown 4.0 Guidelines: The Home Ministry Sunday gave its go-ahead to the re-opening of sports stadia without spectators. Does it clear the way for the 2020 IPL to be played behind closed doors?

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: May 21, 2020 2:29:40 pm
Lockdown 4, lockdown 4 rules, sports stadiums reopen, when will ipl 2020 be held, ipl 2020 date, coronavirus news, ipl 2020 schedule, express explained, indian express, Covid 19 news A majority of IPL franchises are okay with playing this year’s tournament behind closed doors. (File/IPL)

The Home Ministry Sunday gave its go-ahead to the re-opening of sports stadia without spectators. Does it clear the way for the 2020 IPL to be played behind closed doors?

What is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) advisory on sports complexes?

On Sunday, the MHA issued guidelines for the fourth phase of the coronavirus-forced lockdown and mentioned that sports stadia would be allowed to open without spectators. “Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open; however, spectators will not be allowed,” the MHA advisory stated.

Does it pave the way for the IPL to start behind closed doors?

No. As long as there are restrictions on international and domestic travel, no plan can be made with regard to holding this year’s IPL. “See, the IPL at the moment is not possible because travel restrictions are still there. So how can you have the IPL without any travel happening? We are studying these guidelines and we will study state governments’ guidelines also. Accordingly we will plan,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told The Indian Express.

Why are travel restrictions an impediment to organising the IPL?

Ban on international travel means overseas players cannot come and join their respective franchises. Ban on domestic travel means Indian cricketers cannot assemble.

And hypothetically, even if the domestic travel ban is lifted next month, the IPL franchises aren’t agreeable to playing the tournament without their overseas stars. The chief executive of an IPL franchise said the entire balance of the squad could go haywire without foreign players.

What’s the upside of re-opening of sports stadia?

It will allow cricketers to resume outdoor training individually. The BCCI, in conjunction with state associations, is preparing a layout in this regard.

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“At local level, cricketers can go to stadiums and resume outdoor training. But the entire team cannot get together because players are scattered. Until travel is allowed, you cannot bring them at one place. We will work out a plan, along with state cricket associations, as to where all it will be possible for them to resume outdoor training and we will study the availability of coaching stuff and will advise accordingly,” Dhumal said.

Any chance of skill-based group training beginning in the near future?

Not before June. “Taking into the account the restrictions on air travel and movement of people till May 31, the BCCI will wait further before organizing a skill-based training camp for its contracted players,” said a BCCI release.

Tentatively, when will the BCCI start planning about this year’s IPL?

According to Board sources, any proper discussion about the IPL will start only in August.

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Will the BCCI get a window in autumn to organise the IPL if the T20 World Cup in Australia is postponed?

Easier said than done. As a BCCI functionary put it, although a section of cricket administrators and IPL stakeholders seems to have taken the postponement of the T20 World Cup, scheduled in October-November, for granted, it might not be an open-and-shut case. Far from it.

Why is that?

The T20 World Cup is an ICC event. It will generate revenue for the global body. “The ICC will do its level best to organise the tournament as per schedule,” said the Board functionary.

Is the BCCI hell-bent on holding the IPL?

The majority of the IPL franchises are okay with playing this year’s tournament behind closed doors. Host broadcaster, Star, is agreeable to that as well. A couple of days back, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had spoken about how Indian cricket could stare at a Rs 4,000-crore void if the IPL didn’t happen.

At the same time, the Board is very particular about not putting the players at any health risk. “The Board reiterates that the safety and well-being of its athletes and support staff is paramount and will not rush into any decision that can hamper or jeopardize India’s efforts in containing the spread of the virus,” Dhumal stated in the BCCI release.

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