India’s cricket regulator Board of Control for Cricket in India or BCCI yesterday postponed Indian Premier League, a tournament involving 60 matches played over 52 days in six cities, most of which have become Covid-19 hotspots.
The postponement came after 29 matches at a time when India is grappling with a massive second wave, crippling the country’s health infrastructure and killing scores since last month.
Critics have questioned the timing of the tournament, citing the health emergency and deaths of Coronavirus patients due to oxygen shortage in many states.
At least one media house suspended the coverage of the tournament, calling it insensitive. Yesterday, the BCCI said it “does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL.”
Hospitals are running full and doctors and paramedics are handling extended shifts to save lives. The IPL postponement won’t harm anyone and the country should remain focused on battling the disease
The announcement came after serious breaches in the so called “bio-bubble” created to protect players and staff. Many players and staff have caught the virus since the beginning of the tournament on April 9.
Public opinion is split on holding sports tournaments in the middle of the pandemic and a similar debate is raging in Japan over the Olympics. Those in favour argue that such events help spread positivity at a time when people are forced to remain at home and that sports activities improve mental health.
Particularly, they say, IPL helps those who are in quarantine and spending time in isolation and that the evening cricket matches broadcast live on TV provide a welcome distraction from the pandemic.
A raging pandemic
Still, it is hard to ignore that the pandemic is raging through cities and villages and the virus is capable of breaching the bio-bubbles. Several players have caught the virus and more would have been infected if the tournament continued. In that sense, the BCCI’s decision should be welcomed and cricket fans must understand that this ferocious second wave must be fought with the seriousness it deserves.
International health experts, including Dr Anthony Fauci, yesterday reiterated warnings that India is likely to face “horrible weeks” ahead and that the virus will continue to spread. The only solution, at this juncture, is to impose a total and extended lockdown, a step likely to break the chain.
The six IPL venues — Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru with the final in Ahmedabad — are reeling under the crisis.
Hospitals are running full and doctors and paramedics are handling extended shifts to save lives. The IPL postponement won’t harm anyone and the country should remain focused on battling the disease.