NO FANS inside the stadium at least in the beginning, commentators to sit six feet apart in studios, less crowded dugouts, not more than 15 players in a dressing room, post-match award presentations to follow social distancing norms — and four Covid tests in two weeks for all players.
These are some of the key norms in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prepared by the Indian cricket board to be sent soon to IPL franchise owners for the T20 tournament that is expected to be held in the UAE from September to November.
While the government’s approval to move IPL-13 to the UAE is awaited, the Emirates Cricket Board has confirmed its interest in hosting the event after receiving a request from the BCCI.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a BCCI official said it’s not just the players on the field, even their wives and girlfriends (WAGs), and franchise owners, will have to follow the norms for the “bio-bubble” that will be defined.
“Once they are in the bio-bubble, no one can break it and rejoin,” the official said.
“The BCCI will not decide whether WAGs and family members can travel with the players, we have left it to the franchises. But we have put out a protocol in which everyone, even team bus drivers, can’t leave the bio-bubble,” the official said. “The SOP will be handed over to the franchises once we have a meeting with them next week. If they have any grievances, they can come back to the board and we will discuss it.”
The SOP also states that each player will undergo four Covid tests in the span of two weeks before the start of the tournament. Two tests will be held in India prior to departure and two during quarantine in the UAE.
The SOP has been prepared on the lines of norms devised by the England and Wales Cricket Board for the Test series against the West Indies.
In the past, players who represent India have joined the IPL teams separately but no such relaxation would be allowed this time. They will have to enter the bio-bubble along with the rest of their squad members.
With most franchises having squads of 20 players or more, along with sizeable support staff, some of the key guidelines of the SOP are about accommodation. The teams won’t be permitted to change hotels once they are allotted.
The BCCI has already asked franchises to work out logistics and hotel arrangements, although the board will help in getting discounts during bookings. It is learnt that only caterers who have tested negative will be allowed inside the hotels, dressing rooms and other designated areas.
The BCCI will hand over SOPs to broadcasters and match officials, as well.
With the Covid curve expected to flatten in the UAE by then, the official said there was a possibility that fans could watch the action live from the stands from September. But the BCCI isn’t taking any chances. “We don’t want to take risks. At least for the early part of the tournament, the games will be played behind closed doors,” the official said.
According to Gulf News, the UAE announced 375 new cases Wednesday, taking the case count in the country to 59,921, with 53,202 recoveries.
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