In the wake of the novel Coronavirus outbreak, the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) on Thursday decided to put on hold all national and state championships till April 15, keeping in mind government directions to avoid large gatherings. The PCI was scheduled to host national para-athletics championship in Mysore from March 26-28 and national swimming championship from March 28-20 in Bengaluru.
Speaking to a news agency, PCI President Deepa Malik apprised media about the struggle to get sponsorship after the government's direction on the outbreak and added that an athletes' health is paramount.
"We were already struggling to arrange for sponsorship to host these events but with fresh directions from the government, we did not have any option but to ask the state bodies to put on hold all championships," Deepa Malik said.
"Earlier we had asked them that if you are well-equipped, you can go ahead but now the situation is different. It has become scary. Athletes' health is paramount. They have already lost one national (2019) and I just hope we can host these nationals later on," she added.
In India, there have been over 60 confirmed cases on COVID-19 so far and the sporting events impacted include the shooting World Cup and the Indian Open golf tournament, both of which have been postponed for later this year. Globally, sporting events such as the English Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, and the Indian Wells tennis tournament have been cancelled due to fears of the disease spreading. Even bigger than that, the NBA season has been suspended.
In a big development, a Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) source on Thursday confirmed that no foreign player will be available for the upcoming IPL till April 15 due to the visa restrictions imposed by the government in wake of COVID-19 outbreak. This comes two days after a plea had been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the central government not to allow the Board of Control for Cricket in India to conduct Indian Premier League T20 cricket matches from March 29-May 24 due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the petitioner, the coronavirus was spreading all over the world rapidly and creating a huge epidemic disaster.
Earlier, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope had also raised issues stating that large events do get cancelled and that “human life has far more value than IPL”. The 13th edition of the IPL is scheduled to kick off on March 29 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai — defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on last year’s runners up Chennai Super Kings.