The start of Indian Premier League (IPL) is in limbo as some chief ministers of various states in India are calling for a lockdown extension due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s richest sports body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is left with no option but to postpone it until further notice. At the time of writing, there are over 8,500 reported cases and 289 deaths in India.
The BCCI has been waiting for an official announcement from the government the country could see a 14-day extension of the lockdown. The Central government will be announcing guidelines for the same in the next couple of days according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi following a marathon four-hour video conference with Chief Ministers.
“As of now IPL is postponed till April 15, we will wait for the government’s decision and take a call accordingly,” a BCCI source told the press. The cash-rich T20 tournament was scheduled to commence on March 29, however, the threat of coronavirus forced the postponement of the league until April 15. Odisha became the first state to extend the lockdown till April 30 that was followed by a couple more.
“Three States Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka have already said that they are extending lockdown. It is implied that the IPL can’t happen for the time being. But it will certainly not be cancelled. It will be postponed indefinitely,” a BCCI official told a different news outlet. “We can’t cancel IPL as it means losses to the tune of ₹3000 crore,” the official added.
The official also said that the “BCCI will work with all stakeholders to find a solution but for that normalcy needs to return”. According to reports, the cricket board is looking at a September-October window. A senior BCCI official in response to the speculation said that “September is the time when there is monsoon in India” and that “It is a decision that can’t be taken that lightly.”
Given the severity of the situation, the BCCI is left with two options to host the league. The first is to reschedule the tournament in September or October before the T20 World Cup 2020 or to schedule the tournament in place of the T20 World Cup 2020 if ICC, Cricket Australia and stakeholders come to an agreement as a second option.
“There are a lot of ifs and buts at the moment. You can only have a meaningful discussion when things normalise. Till then, nothing can be said,” said the official. The opening match of the 13th edition of IPL was supposed to be played between the defending champions, Mumbai Indians (MI) against another IPL giants, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on March 29.
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