For the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the decision of postponing the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was the only only option, confirms Sourav Ganguly, the board president. After taking a call of pushing back the starting date of the tournament at least till April 15 (depends on government directives), Ganguly said that at this point the first priority is “safety.”
“Let’s stick to the postponement [at the moment]. First priority is safety, so we postponed the games,” the BCCI chief has been quoted saying by the PTI.
However, a senior BCCI official has also clarified that only the start date has been pushed while the window remains the same for the IPL. Hence, when asked whether there will be more double headers to complete the tournament before the deadline, Ganguly sounded unclear about the future plan of action.
“We will see what happens. It is too early to answer,” he mentioned. Asked whether the IPL franchises are happy, he said, “Nobody has a choice.”
The BCCI’s decision has come hours after Delhi government suspended all sporting activity in the national capital due to the ever-growing health crisis. Earlier, the state governments of Karnataka and Maharashtra had also expressed their concerns against hosting this season’s IPL matches in Bengaluru and Mumbai respectively due to the virus outbreak.
India, as of now, has recorded more than 80 positive cases so far with the global infected count standing at over 1,30,000. The Sports Ministry on Thursday had issued an advisory asking national federations to follow the Health Ministry’s guidelines and avoid large gatherings in sports events.
Meanwhile, as per a report published in the Sportstar website, an board official who is close to the developments believes, that a “six-week window from April 21 till May 31” is sufficient to host 60 IPL games of the 13th edition of this lucrative league with “multiple double-headers”. However, the final decision will depend on the “extent of the virus infection by first week of April”.
He also added that “if the tournament doesn’t start by April 20 [around that period], it will have to be deferred till the next year.”
Earlier today, the BCCI had to call off the ongoing three-match ODI series against South Africa due to the coronavirus threat.