The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to suspend the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) until April 15 as a precautionary measure against the devastating Coronavirus (Covid-19) and said it will work closely with the central and state governments, the sports ministry and the health ministry in this regard.
BCCI, in a cautiously worded statement, restrained from saying that it was contemplating hosting the IPL any time soon after April 15, at least for now. “The BCCI has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) situation,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement. “The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that, all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience,” Shah stated.
Public safety paramount
In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and one day after the temporary suspension of the IPL, all franchise owners of the T20 league converged at a meeting called by the BCCI. The owners reflected upon the threat that Covid-19 poses within India and globally and unanimously agreed that the BCCI had “done the right thing” by suspending the league until April 15, for now.
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, also the co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders, led the way once discussions began. “Wonderful to meet everyone after so long,” he said, adding that “safety of spectators, player managements and public paces” should be considered before anything else.
He thanked the BCCI for allowing this communication process to fall in place and bringing everybody on board to chalk out the way forward. N Srinivasan, former president of the BCCI and managing director at India Cements, joined the meeting via a video conference. Khan and Srinivasan proposed - seconded by the rest - that all owners and other franchise representatives should check in seven days’ time if another meeting is possible.
“Until then, let’s continue to monitor the situation and refer to the rules and regulations extended by Central government. Based on how things move from here, another meeting will be required to discuss possible scenarios,” Delhi Capitals’ co-owner Parth Jindal said.
Mumbai Indians were represented by team owner Akash Ambani and a senior executive at Reliance Industries, Nikhil Meswani. Scheduled to play hosts to the first game of the IPL this year, the MI owners too maintained that “public safety was most important for now”.
In the near future, should the virus show any signs of subsiding or being brought under control, the unanimous view once again was that “a full-fledged edition should remain the consideration and intent on part of all stakeholders”.