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Further cloud over IPL 2020 as India goes into a lockdown

Further cloud over IPL 2020 as India goes into a lockdown

Highlights:

  • BCCI under pressure as IPL cancellation looks inevitable.
  • India imposed a 21-day lockdown on Tuesday amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Sourav Ganguly said there is no further decision at the moment on Tuesday.

IPL 2020 cancellation on cards after 21-day lockdown due to Covid-19:

IPL 2020 was suspended until April 15 but resumption looks unlikely with India imposing a 21-day lockdown in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The BCCI will be under tremendous pressure as cancellation of the Indian Premier League looks inevitable after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a 21-day lockdown to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 13th season of Indian Premier League faces further uncertainty, maybe even possible cancellation, as India entered into a three-week lockdown starting March 25 to combat the rapidly spreading Coronavirus pandemic. IPL 2020, originally scheduled to start on March 29, was deferred until April 15 but amid the nationwide lockdown, it is becoming increasingly difficult for stakeholders of the IPL to chart an alternate plan.

Before the lockdown was announced on Tuesday (March 24) evening by the Government of India, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said the status quo had remained on the fate of the season in the wake of the developing situation. “I can’t say anything at the moment. We are at the same place where we were on the day we postponed. Nothing has changed in the last 10 days. So, I don’t have an answer to it. Status quo remains,” Ganguly said.

Ganguly and representatives of the eight franchises had a teleconference last week and were scheduled to get on-call again on Tuesday – a meeting that was canceled. No further meetings are lined up just yet although BCCI will be forced to reconvene given the shutdown will extend till April 14 – a day before the rescheduled start date of the tournament.

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One of the eight options discussed at the IPL Governing Council Meeting of March 14 was to extend the window of the tournament till late May or early June. BCCI was open to calling other boards to discuss the possibility of a reworked itinerary but with countries closing borders and imposing stringent travel restrictions, such a move, too, could prove to be futile.

The possibility of rescheduling the tournament altogether to later this year is subject to conflict with ICC’s Future Tour Program, which could be forced into a re-jig of its own. India tour Sri Lanka in June for a full series also marks the start of the ODI Championships. India has a proposed series against Zimbabwe as well as the Asia Cup T20 in September – the final leg of their build-up to the T20 World Cup in October. 

Sporting events worldwide have been affected by the ongoing pandemic. Football leagues in Europe, the NBA in the USA have been suspended while the Tokyo Olympics has been pushed to 2021. All international crickets have been either suspended or canceled. England has pushed back the start of its season until at least May 28. The BCCI itself was forced to call off the series against South Africa earlier this month, and the situation has only worsened since then. 

Kings XI Punjab owner Ness Wadia was more forthright. “The BCCI should really consider postponing the IPL now. As a premier event, we need to act with great responsibility. Contemplation of IPL is inhumane right now,” KXIP co-owner Wadia told PTI.

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“Let’s say even if the situation improves by May and I hope it does, who is going to come and play? Will the (foreign players) be even allowed to enter the country?” he asked.

“If the Olympics can be postponed by a year, IPL is a much smaller entity in that regard. It is becoming increasingly difficult to organize. At this point the government is not even thinking about allowing foreign visas,” a BCCI official in the know of things said.

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Currently, each stakeholder is discussing ways to limit the financial damage with insurance companies as well as broadcasters. “With 21-day lockdown, it is virtually impossible that things will return to normalcy by April 14. It might improve but a lot of restrictions will be in place. So it will be foolish not to cancel the league,” a BCCI veteran said.

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