Amid the coronavirus scare across India, Union Minister Babul Supriyo on Friday said that the annual popular sporting event Indian Premier League (IPL) should be postponed. Supriyo gave multiple examples of sporting events across the globe that have been called off or postponed because of the pandemic.
Speaking to news agency ANI, he said, "Currently, the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal is going on in a precarious situation. If Bengal scores 70 odd runs, they will be Ranji Trophy champions. The match is going on, you cannot stop it in between. On the last day, it is being played behind closed doors, that's absolutely fine. But you have to place health scare ahead of a sporting event."
Asserting that a health scare as serious as coronavirus should be placed ahead of any sporting event, Supriyo said, "EPL matches have been postponed, Italy's Serie A has been called off. Yesterday, America's NFL was also abandoned, So, the advisory issued by the Health Ministry regarding the IPL should be followed in a serious way. According to me, sports is very important but it cannot be at the cost of a health scare so serious."
The BJP leader added, "IPL is so popular that people in large numbers go to watch the matches and that is something not advised by any health organisation in the world. We have to take precautions and according to me, IPL should be postponed. BCCI is an autonomous body and it should think about it and take the right decision." The final decision over the fate of the IPL will be taken on Saturday after the meeting of the governing council (GC)
The External Affairs Ministry (MEA) on Thursday advised the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) against holding this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) edition in wake of the coronavirus scare, but left it to the organisers to take a final call on it. This was stated by MEA Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi who has been appointed as the nodal officer to coordinate efforts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Responding to questions about IPL and other sporting events, Ravi said the government's advice would be "not do it at this time but if the organisers want to go ahead, it is their decision".
The coronavirus outbreak, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday, has led to more than 4,000 deaths globally. 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 75. No foreign player will be available in the league due to the restrictions.
(With agency inputs)