New Delhi: The Sports Ministry has made it very clear to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with other national federations that any event that has to be held amid the coronavirus outbreak will have to be behind closed doors. The diktat clearly means that if the board has to hold the Indian Premier League, it has to be without public gathering.
Speaking to IANS, Union Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya has made it clear that if a sports event is unavoidable and has to be organised, it should be done ensuring there is no public gathering.
“All national federations, including the BCCI, have been told to adhere to the guidelines and advisory issued by the ministry of health and public welfare. We have also told them to avoid any public gathering and if a sporting event has to be organised, it should be done without gathering of people.
“It is the state government who has to manage the crowd and who have the power under the epidemic diseases act (Epidemic Act of 1897). If it is unavoidable and it has to be organised, then they should do it without collecting the crowd,” he pointed.
This clearly is an indication for the BCCI that if they do go ahead with the IPL, it has to be behind closed doors. When contacted, a BCCI official said that the decision of the central government needs to be adhered to.
“The BCCI will take the best possible course of action in the interest of the game, the players, the fans and the league. The circumstances are changing and the board doesn’t really have control over the situation. The IPL Governing Council is meeting in Mumbai on Saturday and have to take a call keeping in mind the diktat handed by the central government,” a BCCI official admitted.
The central 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 the country rose over 70. No foreign player, hence, will be available for this edition till April 15 due to visa restrictions imposed by the government to contain the deadly virus outbreak, BCCI sources said.
The fate of the IPL itself will be decided on March 14 at the event’s Governing Council meeting in Mumbai.
When contacted, an official of an IPL franchise said that it was important that the BCCI also keeps the franchises in the loop in the current circumstance. “We have come to a scenario wherein we get to hear of developments from the media rather than the board. All stakeholders should be kept in loop with regards to the decisions being taken. If the Sports Ministry has already made it clear that there can be no public gathering around sporting events, then it is very clear that the IPL has to be held either behind closed doors or be deferred. Don’t think the second is an option as such getting foreign players post the original window will be an issue,” the official said.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, asked lawyer-cum-petitioner Mohan Babu Agrawal to approach the regular bench of the apex court to mention his matter related to the postponement of IPL on the ground of the spread of coronavirus.
The vacation bench headed by Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose asked Agrawal to mention it before the regular bench and refused to hear the mentioning.
The Bench stated that this is a vacation bench and will hear urgent matters only.
Agrawal mentioned before the apex court today that the IPL is set to begin on March 29, with the lung opener set to be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. But as coronavirus is spreading, there should be postponement of the IPL tournament in India.