As per media reports, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is considering the possibility of holding IPL 2020 in empty stadiums with only TV and online streaming viewers to watch. “We will discuss all the options available and decide the best course of action,” IPL Chief Brijesh Patel told the media.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sports has made it clear to the BCCI that IPL cannot be held with spectators inside stadiums under the current circumstances. “You are advised to adhere to the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event. In the event, the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of people, including spectators,” the Sports Ministry said in a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and as well as all the other national sports federations, including the BCCI.
Reacting to the development, Kashi Vishwanathan, CEO of Chennai Super Kings, told Hindustan Times, “It’s better than having no IPL. That would be a bigger hit. Things will become clearer after the IPL governing council meets."
Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports, tweeted, "There are many confusions amongst the athletes at this moment. Two Advisories are issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports for matches abroad and the domestic. There's no restrictions on playing but guidelines to be followed strictly in the larger interest of health."
IPL 2020 is scheduled to start on March 29 with the opening match between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. However, the Maharashtra government has banned sale of tickets for IPL 2020. The BCCI also confirmed on Thursday that second and third One-day Internationals (ODIs) between India and South Africa will be played behind closed doors.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday, assessed that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. The BCCI is making every effort for compliance with the regulatory bodies of the Government of India and ensure the safety of our athletes and valued fans," a BCCI release said.
The first ODI in Dharamsala was abandoned without a ball bowled due to rain. The second ODI will be held in Lucknow on March and the third at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on March 18.
--By A Cricket Correspondent