The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday advised the organisers of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to not conduct the tournament amid the Coronavirus scare in the country. In a briefing by the MEA, special appointee Dammu Ravi said, "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."
Earlier in the day, a top BCCI source told PTI that no foreign player will be available for this year’s IPL till April 15 due to visa restrictions imposed by the government to contain the novel coronavirus threat, casting fresh doubts on the fate of the event. “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 government issued a fresh advisory with a ban on all existing foreign visas, except a few categories like diplomatic and employment, till April 15 in the wake of new positive cases of novel coronavirus in the country. The fate of the IPL itself will be decided on March 14 at the event’s Governing Council meeting in Mumbai. Having the IPL, starting March 29, played in empty stadiums is an option being explored.
The sports ministry has asked all national federations, including the BCCI, to follow the Health Ministry's advisory and avoid large gatherings in sports events keeping in mind the novel coronavirus pandemic. "We have asked all the NSFs (National Sports Federations), including the BCCI, to follow the Health Ministry's latest advisory, which says public gatherings should be avoided in all events, including sporting activities," PTI quoted Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya as saying.
(With agency inputs)