Amid criticism last week, BCCI had told teams that they weren’t just playing to win but for something greater… “humanity.”
- The Indian Premier League suspended indefinitely midway through the season after players test positive for COVID-19.
- BCCI states it does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organizing the IPL.
- With the IPL suspension and uncertainty, there looms a fear of losses for broadcasters, advertisers, fantasy gaming and startup sponsors for IPL 2021.
- The mass exodus of Australian players, coaches and support staff to the Maldives as Australia closes its door begs the question if the decision was too late for overseas players.
First, a few top Indian players like Ravichandran Ashwin left the Indian Premier League midway, citing they wanted to be with their families to fight this pandemic together. Then a few foreign players returned home with the same reasons. All was definitely not well in the camps. Finally, the bio bubble gave way. The Board of Cricket Control in India’s which runs the IPL has received a body blow from the pandemic. BCCI’s dream of hosting the ICC T20 World Cup in October now hangs in the balance as the tournament now looks bound for UAE. The IPL today was suspended indefinitely following multiple cases in at least 4 teams part of the tournament. The BCCI seems jittery and quite predictably might decide to shift the rest of the tournament to UAE.
Good sense has finally prevailed but this good step in the right direction comes with the fact that IPL bosses have no other option now.
Watch: IPL suspension to hit broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors alike
“We have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer” – BCCI
In an advisory, the BCCI stated: “The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect. The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organizing the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind.”
“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.”Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI)
The decision comes close on the heels of Monday’s IPL 2021 match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad being rescheduled after the Knight Riders’ spinner Varun Chakravarthy and seam bowler Sandeep Warrier tested positive for Covid-19. Indian veteran spinner Amit Sharma, CSK bowling coach and former international bowler L Balaji and Australia’s T20 circuit legend Mike Hussey also tested Covid-19 positive.
The tournament was facing a lot of flak recently, with many criticizing the organizers for conducting the league despite India consistently recording over 3 lakh fresh Covid-19 cases daily. Hashtags like #CancelIPL were also trending on social media just last week. After the IPL’s indefinite suspension, a lot of memes by fans have started appearing on Twitter.
Why the sudden change of heart?
According to IPL Governing Council members, the decision to postpone was taken after Amit Mishra and Wriddhiman Saha too tested positive on Tuesday. Multiple BCCI officials and the franchises too confirmed the development. “After much deliberation, it was decided that the tournament had to be suspended for now,” a BCCI official said.
Just last week, BCCI had told teams that they weren’t just playing to win but for something greater… “humanity.”
Noted senior sports journalist V. Krishnaswamy also tweeted that the game’s image has been damaged due to the fact that it was staged during the pandemic. Sponsors will also think twice, before associating with IPL he said.
Star Sports has roped in 18 sponsors and over 100 advertisers across multiple brand categories and many small businesses have invested a large amount of their marketing budget on IPL this year.
The sudden decision to indefinitely postpone IPL has left the stakeholders in disarray. Overseas players now have the challenge to make the trip home amid worldwide restrictions on travel from India, the current global hotspot. A mass exodus of Australian players, coaches and support staff will be travelling to Maldives as Australia has already closed its borders preventing any travel even for the home team.