Cricket

Coronavirus | Sports Ministry tells sports bodies, including BCCI, to keep away crowds

Under-19 players read notice put up at Nehru stadium, reads training schedules put off indefinitely till further notice in the wake of COVID-19 in Mumbai on March 12, 2020.

Under-19 players read notice put up at Nehru stadium, reads training schedules put off indefinitely till further notice in the wake of COVID-19 in Mumbai on March 12, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Mandar Tannu

IPL in empty stadiums would be up for discussion at the event’s Governing Council meeting on Saturday.

The BCCI kept mum but the Sports Ministry on Thursday dropped hints that the IPL could be held in empty stadiums due to the COVID-19 pandemic even as foreign players were ruled out of the glitzy event till April 15 following government-imposed travel restrictions.

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IPL in empty stadiums would be up for discussion at the event’s Governing Council meeting on Saturday and the BCCI has decided to adopt a wait and watch policy till then. The T20 tournament is due to start on March 29 in Mumbai.

However, the Sports ministry has asked all national federations, including the cricket board, to follow the Health Ministry’s advisory and avoid large gatherings in sports events.

Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya told PTI that tournaments can continue but without the crowds.

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“We have asked all the NSFs, including the BCCI, to follow the Health Ministry’s latest advisory, which says public gatherings should be avoided in all events, including sporting activities,” Julaniya said.

“The sporting events can go on but the advisory needs to be followed,” he added.

The government on Wednesday suspended all visas, barring a few categories like diplomatic and employment, in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus as cases across India rose to more than 70.

No foreign player will be available in the league due to the restrictions.

A closed-door IPL seems like a real possibility now but even a postponement cannot be ruled out given that the 60-odd overseas recruits won’t be available to ply their trade, at least in the initial stages of the event starting March 29 in Mumbai.

“The foreign players who play in the IPL come under the Business Visa category. As per the government’s directive, they can’t come till April 15,” a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

The Maharashtra and Karnataka governments are already wary of organising the home games of Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The outbreak, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday, has led to more than 4,000 deaths globally.

Earlier, the shooting World Cup and the Indian Open golf tournament were postponed while badminton’s India Open will be played without any spectators.

The coronavirus outbreak has also led to speculation over the fate of the Tokyo Olympics this year.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, has insisted that the Games will be held as scheduled in July-August.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 10:40:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/coronavirus-sports-ministry-tells-sports-bodies-including-bcci-to-shut-out-crowds/article31048698.ece

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