By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi: With the coronavirus pandemic spreading like wildfire, the eight Indian Premier League team owners are waiting for their meeting with the BCCI officials to decide on the next step of action as the fate of the 13th edition of the league appears doomed.
Speaking to IANS, an official of one of the franchises said that things are slowly going out of hand as one by one all the state governments are making it clear that they will not host IPL matches and the only way out is to have the games without fans.
“Now the AAP government has said they will not host IPL games to avoid mass gatherings. So, where do you host games if one by one all the cities refuse? So, hosting the tournament closed door is the only way forward it seems. And the worst part is that with a pandemic like this, you don’t know if things will improve or go worse.
“How do you know if things will improve post April 15? What if it only gets worse? This is a serious issue and we can only speak post tomorrow’s meeting with the BCCI officials,” the official said.
Echoing the sentiments, an official of another franchise said that postponement cannot be an option as teams will then again come to the scenario wherein they will miss their foreign recruits.
“See, we have all planned teams keeping our four foreign players in mind. If we get to the business end without our foreign recruits, then it again becomes a domestic tournament just like say Mushtaq Ali or Vijay Hazare Trophy. To keep the charisma alive, you need foreign players. There is no difference in opinion when it comes to that. At present, closed door is the best option, not postponement,” the official said.
A third official said that it was crucial that the BCCI meets the concerned authorities in the central government and gets the required permissions to not just get visas for the foreign players, but also the necessary permission to host games.
“We are all talking about foreign players and their visas, but you cannot have the IPL without the grounds. So, it is important that the BCCI officials sit down with the concerned authorities and get the necessary clearances. And to get clearance, the BCCI has to hold the games behind closed doors because that is the only way to get permission as mass gathering is a strict no-no. Let’s see what the BCCI shares with us tomorrow as we have been called for the meeting at 12 noon. The IPL GC I am guessing will be held keeping in mind what discussions take place between us,” the official said.
A second meeting of the Group of Ministers on Wednesday cancelled all visas, except for a few official categories, till April 15 in the wake of the growing scare.
In the meeting held at Nirman Bhavan in the national capital, it was decided that all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till April 15 as the coronavirus outbreak has already seen over 60 positive cases in India.
The BCCI is expected to take a final call on the matter in the IPL Governing Council meeting in Mumbai on Saturday.