COVID-19 set to affect cricket in India as MEA advises against conducting IPL

The India-South Africa might be played to empty stadiums, the IPL might see no foreign cricketers for the first part of the tournament and the entire tournament itself might be cancelled. As India gears up for the currently underway 3-ODI series against South Africa, followed by the almost two-month long Indian Premier League, the outbreak of COVID-19 has put the much awaited home cricket season under threat. 

With India reporting as many as 73 cases of the novel coronavirus infection as of March 12, the Indian government has advised that cricket matches be played in empty stadiums to prevent a large gathering of people with the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday even advising against conducting the IPL at all.

In its weekly briefing on Thursday, the MEA said, "It is for the organisers to decide whether to go ahead with it or not. Our advice would be to not do it at this time but if they want to go ahead, it is their decision." 

The sports ministry has already asked all federations, including the BCCI to follow Health Ministry guidelines and avoid mass gatherings of people. 

"We have asked all the NSFs (National Sports Federations), including the BCCI, to follow the Health Ministry’s latest advisory, which says public gatherings should be avoided in all events, including sporting activities," PTI quoted Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya as saying.

So far the BCCI has not given any indication whether this would be the case or not. The Board only issued a set of guidelines, in compliance with the Ministry of Health, for teams to follow to stay safe from the infection. 

According to reports, the IPL Governing Council is set to meet on March 14 to decide how to conduct the IPL. Apart from the fear of large crowds in cricket stadiums for the matches, the IPL will also be without foreign players till April 15 with the Indian government suspending all visas till then. 

The IPL Governing Council is likely to meet on March 14 to decide how to proceed amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@IPL
The IPL Governing Council is likely to meet on March 14 to decide how to proceed amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@IPL

The Maharashtra government has already banned ticket sales for the IPL opener between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings scheduled for March 29. 

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has infected over 124,000 people globally and killed over 4600 since it was first diagnosed in December 2019. 

Spectator at India-Australia women’s T20 World Cup Final tests positive

A spectator who was present at last weekend's women's Twenty20 World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The match saw a packed stadium with a record attendance of 86,174 as Australia beat India by 85 runs to win the tournament.

"The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), as ground managers of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), is aware that a person who attended the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Final at the MCG on Sunday March 8 has now been diagnosed with COVID-19," the MCC said in a statement. "The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has advised of the patron's diagnosis and has classified it as a low-risk of spreading COVID-19 to surrounding members of the public and staff."