Despite the Uttar Pradesh government advising the BCCI not to go ahead with the second ODI against South Africa in Lucknow on Sunday, the fixture will be played, albeit behind closed doors. The advice from the Lucknow district administration comes after a patient in the state capital tested positive for Coronavirus tested on Thursday.
With the cricket board intent on going ahead with the Lucknow ODI without spectators, the same formula could be applied for the third ODI in Kolkata (March 18) and the Indian Premier League, starting March 29, even as the Ministry of External Affairs saying the central government’s advice would be “not do it (IPL) at this time but if the organisers want to go ahead, it is their decision”.
An advisory on Coronavirus received by the central government was on Thursday forwarded to the BCCI suggesting that all sport events should be either postponed or held without allowing any spectators.
Lucknow Divisional Commissioner Mukesh Meshram put the ball in BCCI’s court as far as Sunday’s ODI is concerned.
“The decision on the cricket match is to be taken by the BCCI as they are the one organising the match. We have received an advisory by the Government of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and that is what we have forwarded to the BCCI, which is a private organisation. We have not written anything to the BCCI and have just passed on the advisory,” Meshram told The Indian Express.
The External Affairs Ministry said the IPL was one of several big events which the government had to consider.
“We are assessing a lot of requests of this nature of sports events that have been held in India and something related to mega events already being planned. It is for the organisers to decide if they want to go ahead with it or not,” MEA Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi, appointed as the nodal officer to coordinate efforts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. said during a press briefing.
Earlier in the day, Uttar Pradesh minister of Medical, Health and Family Welfare Jai Pratap Singh said that the health department had advised Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash to write to the BCCI asking for the postponement of the match.
The advisory by the Centre has asked state governments to take appropriate action under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and adhere to advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
“You are advised to ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event. In the event the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of people, including spectators,” mentioned the advisory.
An earlier office memorandum by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare dated March 5 mentioned that experts across the world have advised to prevent mass gatherings to avoid the spread of the virus, till the spread of the disease is contained.
The IPL will have to be played behind closed doors if the BCCI wants to go ahead with the tournament as per schedule. Following the sports ministry’s advisory issued on Thursday, this is the best the BCCI can hope for, as the government has banned public gathering “in any sporting event” to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The IPL governing council meeting on Saturday will take a call on the future of this year’s tournament. The franchises want the IPL to go ahead, empty stands notwithstanding, while admitting that public health is paramount.
“We have every confidence in the powers-that-be to take the right decision. Whatever decision is taken, we will appreciate that,” Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore told The Indian Express.
Shorter, delayed IPL on cards
Kolkata: Keen on the participation of foreign players, the BCCI is considering a delayed and shorter IPL. By pushing the start of the tournament to April, the Indian board hopes that the Coronavirus threat would have subsided and this would pave the way for players from abroad to travel. A shorter IPL would mean a change in the tournament format — the eight-team round robin league might be replaced with a competition of two groups of four teams each. There would also be a number of double headers.
On the face of it, the government’s decision to suspend all existing visas — except Diplomatic, UN/ International organisations, Officials, Project and Employment — debars the overseas players in the IPL. Since the first season, foreign players have come here on Business visas and thus they aren’t in the exempted category. According to some franchise officials, however, business visas could also be classified as Employment visas, as players come here to honour professional contracts. Franchises pay their remunerations after tax deduction.
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