The Coronavirus outbreak poses a significant threat to IPL 2020. The Indian government has made it evident to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that any sporting event scheduled amid the outbreak of Coronavirus will have to be behind closed doors. Reports suggest that while the IPL 2020 franchises are okay with the idea of no fans for the games, they wish that the foreign stars be made available for the tournament that is scheduled to kick off on March 29.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on the effect of #coronavirus on IPL: I think it is for the organizers to decide whether to go ahead with it or not. Our advice would be to not do it at this time but if they want to go ahead, it is their decision. pic.twitter.com/qFlpsrxU0D— ANI (@ANI) March 12, 2020
Speaking to an Indian news agency, an official of one of the IPL 2020 franchises revealed that the franchises are okay with the idea of empty stands and closed doors amid the outbreak of Coronavirus. However, he stated that the teams wished for their overseas stars to be made available since the start of the tournament on March 29. According to the restrictions placed by the Indian government, the foreign stars set to take part in IPL 2020 cannot fly to the country before April 15.
The official revealed that while the situation is not ideal, there is no option other than to play the IPL 2020 matches behind closed doors after the World Health Organisation declared Coronavirus as a pandemic. He added that while it is disappointing for the fans, it is better to schedule the tournament where fans can watch the matches live on television instead of having IPL 2020 cancelled. However, he added that the BCCI must talk to the central government to make an exception for foreign players to come in before April 15 or else IPL 2020 would lose its sheen.
Rumours have suggested that the IPL 2020 could be shifted to the second week of April; however, another official said that it was a strict no-no as a lot of overseas stars could miss the business end of the tournament. He said that the international commitments of players could not be toyed with and considering the interest of all parties, the best solution is for IPL 2020 to be played behind closed doors. He added that the franchises would have to bear losses that come from merchandise sale, but they were minimal compared to the ones they would have to incur if IPL 2020 were to be cancelled.
The Coronavirus outbreak has already seen 60 positive cases in India. Union Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya said that if a sporting event is inevitable and has to be organised, it should be held behind closed doors guaranteeing there is no public gathering. The BCCI is likely to take a final call on the matter in the IPL Governing Council meeting in Mumbai on Saturday.