BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - AS the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb astronomically in India, the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) has been forced to postpone the remainder of the tournament because the virus has made its way inside the tournament bubble.
Yesterday (May 3), the Governing Council was forced to postpone a scheduled encounter between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore after two players from the former team tested positive for the Coronavirus.
The players are all in a bi-secure bubble, which they are not allowed to leave and return without being guided by officials assigned to the tournament.
But it was announced yesterday that two more teams have players who contracted the virus over the last several days.
In a media statement, IPL said that the Governing Council of the League and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting have “unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season with immediate effect”.
The BCCI came in for heavy criticism for not postponing the tournament earlier as the number of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths skyrocketed within the country.
But in announcing the postponement, the Board said, “The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff, and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health, and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind.”
There are currently several world class West Indian players participating in the much-fancied tournament in Asia, such as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Shimron Hetmer, Nicholas Pooran, and Andre Russell.
“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the IPL statement said.
However, even as the tournament is postponed, the Australian players cannot return home due to travel restrictions implemented by the government barring travellers from India from entering that country.
Anyone travelling from the Asian nation will face fines or jail time. And media reports suggested that the player would now travel to the Maldives for some time before they are allowed home.
Many are concerned about franchise cricket during the time of COVID-19, and with the Caribbean Premier League set to be staged in St. Kitts and Nevis, beginning in July, it is something the authorities are keeping a close eye on.