(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The start of IPL 2020 has been pushed back to April 15 following the global concern over the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. The decision to postpone the tournament, which was scheduled to start on March 29, was taken by the BCCI top brass lead by its president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah and top management of the IPL in the wake of the advice given by various arms of the Indian government.
The IPL sent the communication to all eight franchises on Friday, saying it would meet the owners on Saturday in person in Mumbai to further debrief on the matter.
The BCCI confirmed the development through a media release Friday afternoon stating it was “suspending” the IPL until April 15 as a “precautionary measure” against the coronavirus. “The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that, all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience,” the release said. “The BCCI will work closely with the Government of India along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and all other relevant Central and State Government departments in this regard.”
The IPL now joins a host of high-profile sporting events including the UEFA Champions League, the NBA and the ATP Tour to be affected by COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), a respiratory illness that was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organistion (WHO) this week.
With the outbreak rapidly escalating across the globe the Indian government has placed severe travel restrictions for people traveling in as well out of India. With the coronavirus being highly contagious and spread through contact, the government said sporting organisations would need to adhere to Health Ministry’s guidelines to avoid mass gatherings.
ESPNcricinfo had earlier reported the possibility of the IPL being a severely restricted tournament – with at least some part of it being played to empty stands – because of the pandemic. While the central sports ministry had said it would not stop sporting events from taking place as long as they adhered strictly to government guidelines discouraging mass gatherings, the external affairs (foreign) ministry had said that its advice was to not go ahead with the tournament at this time, but left the decision to the organisers.