With dark clouds looming over the future of the 13th edition of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial health of the entire cricket fraternity is on stake, a desperate Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) might look to host the event outside India in September-October (which seems like the most likely window as of now) if the situation in the country doesn’t improve by then.
IPL is no stranger to foreign lands as in the past South Africa and United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosted the event on their soil due to the general elections in India and we might see a similar scenario this time around when the flagship event of Indian cricket may need to make a trip abroad.
This year the tournament, which was originally scheduled to commence from March 29, was postponed earlier due to the global coronavirus outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions around the world. At present, with the virus continue to spread at a rapid pace in the country and still there is no vaccine available, it seem highly unlikely that the Indian government will allow the BCCI to organise a major sporting event in the country even towards the end of this year. And anticipating such circumstances, the UAE cricket board has already offered to host the tournament in their country, whenever the sporting activities will resume around the world.
“The UAE has offered to host the IPL if we want them to. But right now when there is no international travel, there is no question of taking a call on that,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal has been quoted saying by Hindustan Times.
However, according to Dhamal, as of now the board’s only priority is the health and security of the players.
“The health and security of players and all participants is our priority. At the moment, the entire world travel has come to a standstill, so there is nothing we can decide at this stage,” he said.
Interestingly, the financially struggling Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had also come up with a similar proposal a few weeks earlier in order to revive its economy.
As per media reports, the idea of taking the IPL abroad has already been discussed with franchises over informal channels. Especially with Sri Lanka and UAE being geographically close, the broadcasting slots (which is the biggest revenue source of IPL) won’t be affected. However, in case of Sri Lanka, the unseasonal rain can be a concern but there is no such issue in the UAE.
Hence, if the authorities eventually manage to organise IPL 13 this year and decide to take event out of India, a desert safari seems like the best bet.