IPL 2021 postponed as Covid-19 count increases

IPL 2021 has been postponed, following several positive Covid-19 cases across franchises over the past couple of days. There is no official word yet on when or whether the remainder of the tournament will be staged, though BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla was emphatic it “will happen” and a decision would be taken when the pandemic situation improved.

In a statement, the IPL said the decision was “unanimously” taken by the tournament’s Governing Council and the BCCI. “The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL,” the statement said. “This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind.

“These are difficult times, especially in India, and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.”

The statement also said the BCCI would do “do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021”.

Shukla, speaking to Star Sports, hinted at the decision-making process. “Obviously the currently situation in India is pretty bad, everybody is scared, so even they [foreign players] might be scared. A few players spoke to their franchises about wanting to leave the country, the franchises also confided in us. Not many players were willing to leave the country, but obviously there is a panic-like situation, and if people are scared, we need to look at that aspect and take steps accordingly. So taking the players’ concerns, their families’ concerns in mind, we have taken this decision.”

Though the statement itself was unclear on the tournament resuming, Shukla’s comments suggested that it would at some point. “One thing I want to make very clear, it has not been cancelled – it has been suspended, it has been postponed, it has been deferred. So it will happen. The remainder of the IPL will happen but in due course, when the Covid situation improves, a decision will be taken.”

The immediate cause

The announcement came following increasing Covid-19 positive cases within the IPL. The Sunrisers Hyderabad became the third franchise to register cases when it was confirmed earlier on Tuesday that Wriddhiman Saha had tested positive for Covid-19 and was isolating from the rest of the squad.

On Monday, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive and the day’s match between the Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad was put off. Within hours came news from Delhi of two confirmed cases in the Chennai Super Kings camp: bowling coach L Balaji and a member of their service staff.

Balaji’s case, in particular, raised concerns among the other franchises as he was in the team’s dugout on May 1 during the match against the Mumbai Indians. Earlier on Tuesday, it was confirmed that the Super Kings had gone into isolation for a week. The Saha news soon followed, before the tournament’s postponement was announced.

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