Coronavirus: Council to decide on IPL 2020 on March 14

Coronavirus: IPL Council to decide on IPL 2020 on March 14; Season could go behind closed doors

AFP Photo

The Indian Premier League Governing Council will hold an all-important meeting in Mumbai on Saturday to discuss the conduct of the 13th edition of the league, scheduled to start from March 29, amidst the coronavirus scare that is forcing several leagues across the world to be either cancelled or suspended.

However, the Sports ministry has asked all national federations, including the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), to follow the Health Ministry's advisory and avoid large gatherings in sports events.

Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya told PTI that tournaments can continue but without the crowds.

"We have asked all the NSFs, including the BCCI, to follow the Health Ministry's latest advisory, which says public gatherings should be avoided in all events, including sporting activities," Julaniya said. "The sporting events can go on but the advisory needs to be followed," he added.

Follow live updates of coronavirus cases in India here

The 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 India rose to more than 60.

No foreign player will be available in the league due to the restrictions.

A closed-door IPL seems like a real possibility now but even a postponement cannot be ruled out given that the 60-odd overseas recruits won't be available to ply their trade, at least in the intial stages of the event starting March 29 in Mumbai.

The league is said to generate more than $11 billion a year to the Indian economy and Chinese mobile-maker Vivo paid $330 million to be the top sponsor for 2018-2022.

"We are keen to start the IPL on time even if it means without crowds," a senior BCCI official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "It could be TV-only as it is a medical emergency and we can do nothing about that."

The BCCI, which has already slashed the prize money for the winners and runners-up, wants to start the league on time. But officials said it will have to fall in line with whatever the government orders.

"The foreign players who play in the IPL come under the Business Visa category. As per the government's directive, they can't come till April 15," a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

The GC meeting comes after Karnataka and Maharashtra state governments expressed their apprehensions about hosting matches and the Union Government on Wednesday announced all tourist visas will be suspended until April 15.

The governing council meeting will be chaired by Brijesh Patel and attended by BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah. The GC will discuss the possibility of staging matches behind closed doors — like some football games in Europe — as a majority of the revenue is generated through broadcast rights than gate receipts.

Franchises are choosing to remain tight-lipped and are hoping for the best possible outcome from Saturday’s meeting. Things though remain bleak for this season’s IPL with World Health Organisation already terming the disease as pandemic.

With PTI inputs

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