Days after cricket board president Sourav Ganguly and IPL Governing Council chairman Brijesh Patel ruled out any threat to the Indian Premier League because of coronavirus outbreak, high-ranking BCCI officials got in touch with the Sports Ministry on Thursday to assess the situation.
The BCCI officials held a teleconference with their Sports Ministry counterparts to seek advice on the health impact ahead of the IPL, which begins on March 29. They were subsequently directed to the health ministry.
“The BCCI is having some internal meetings and wanted to assess the situation arising out of coronavirus. They are collecting all the data and would be taking an appropriate decision in the next 2-3 days,” a source said.
“The Sports Ministry cannot interfere with where and when events should be organised. So it has been suggested to the BCCI that they talk one-on-one with the secretary and joint secretary of the health ministry.”
Apart from BCCI, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), too, got in touch with the Sports Ministry on Thursday. The NRAI will be hosting shooting World Cup in Delhi from March 16. The visa restrictions imposed by the government in the aftermath of the coronavirus means close to a dozen nations, including shooting powerhouses like China, Italy, Iran and Italy, will not be competing in the tournament.
The tournament was dealt a further blow on Wednesday after International Shooting Sport Federation decided to strip off ranking points that were on offer at the event because of the withdrawals.
Both these governing bodies, the source said, are staring at two situations: ensuring participation of foreign players and crowd management. The latter will be a bigger issue for the BCCI since thousands fill up the stands to watch an IPL match.
However, experts advising to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of the virus. “If people do not go to watch the games, it affects the IPL’s significance and revenues. So spectator control is one issue that BCCI is facing,” the source said.
The bigger issue for BCCI and NRAI, the source added, is ensuring the participation of players or them being sent to quarantine.
“If an athlete belongs to a country where a visa is currently not being issued, then what will be the impact? And if the athlete comes from a country where he has to be put in quarantine, then what is the impact? These are the situations that are being assessed.”
The IPL will see 60-odd players from countries like Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa and the Caribbean – regions where cases of coronavirus have been very few.
The BCCI has so far denied that IPL could be impacted because of the virus. While Patel, on Thursday, said they are assessing the situation, Ganguly added the BCCI hasn’t even ‘discussed the issue.’