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Coronavirus outbreak: BCCI postpones IPL till April 15, Delhi govt bans all sports events and social gatherings

Due to the ongoing coronavirus across the world including India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to postpone the 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL). The annual T20 cricket tournament, which was scheduled to begin on March 29, will now start from April 15th.

In a press release, BCCI said, “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”.  The office-bearers of the BCCI, led by president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah, met at the board’s headquarters in Mumbai on Friday and took the decision.

Earlier today, the Delhi government had announced that IPL and other sports events will not be allowed in the city state. In a press conference held on Friday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia announced that all social and sports gatherings including the coveted Indian Premier League (IPL) will not be held in Delhi in the wake of coronavirus outbreak that has affected 6 people in Delhi so far.

He added, “It is our responsibility to stop the spread of coronavirus. Social distancing is the biggest solution to this problem. Even one person (carrier) can infect several other people. Self-restraint is required in such circumstances.”

Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain advised people with symptoms of coronavirus such as cough and fever to stay insolated in their homes. He emphasised that home quarantine is the best solution in such cases. Jain also added that the government had enough quarantine facilities to deal with the deadly virus.

The official government order read, “In exercise of the powers conferred by the Delhi Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19, Regulations, 2020 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, it is hereby directed that all sports gatherings (including IPL)/conferences/seminars beyond 200 people are prohibited in NCT of Delhi for the purpose of prevention and control of the outbreak of epidemic disease namely COVID – 19.”

Yesterday the Delhi government had ordered that all educational institutions and movie theatres will remain closed till March 31.

Earlier, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), following discussions with the Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, had announced that the remaining one-day international matches between India and South Africa would be played in Lucknow and Kolkata without any public gathering, including spectators. 

On Thursday, a special appointee of the Ministry of External Affairs, Dammu Ravi, said “I think it is for the organizers (of IPL) to decide whether to go ahead with it or not. Our advice would be to not do it at this time but if they want to go ahead, it is their decision.” The government earlier issued an advisory banning existing foreign visas till April 15.

If and when the IPL is held from 15th April, it will be played behind closed doors in empty stadiums, as per the directive of the union health ministry. Moreover, it will also depend on the availability of visa for foreign players, who are integral parts of the teams in IPL. Indian govt has already cancelled most visas upto 15th April, exempting only diplomatic, official, employment and project visas. According to reports, the event, if held, may be limited to one or two venues, to limit travel. This will also depend on individual state governments allowing the games to be held in their states, as other states may also follow Delhi and ban social and sports gatherings.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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