New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday announced the postponement of the Indian Premier League till April 15 in wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, reported news agency ANI. 

"We have decided to suspend IPL 2020 till April 15, as a precautionary measure against the Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) situation," ANI quoted BCCI saying in a statement. The cricket board said that the decision to postpone the event was taken over the "concern and sensitivity towards stakeholders and public health in general."

The annual T20 cricket extravaganza was scheduled to start from March 29 in Mumbai with a match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. 

A BCCI official, as quoted by news agency IANS said that it was decided that the best way forward is to hold the cash-rich league from April 15. "Yes, the internal decision has been made to postpone the start of the tournament and it will begin on April 15, the BCCI has informed the franchises about the same," the official said.

The move came after the Centre advised the BCCI to hold upcoming international cricket fixtures in empty stadiums, Reuters said in a report. With the delay in its start, IPL now joins a number of high-profile sports events across the world including  UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Serie A, the NBA and the ATP Tour, which got affected by the coronavirus outbreak. 

The government on Wednesday cancelled all visas, except for a few official categories, till April 15 in the wake of the growing scare. In the meeting held at Nirman Bhavan in the national capital, it was decided that all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till April 15 as the coronavirus outbreak has already seen over 70 positive cases in India.

Earlier in the day, the Delhi government had said that it will not host IPL matches in the national capital in its bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far claimed over 4,600 lives globally and left more than 1,16,000 people affected. India saw its first death due to the novel virus as a 76-year-old Karnataka man, who died on Tuesday, was tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. 

The BCCI is set to meet the IPL team owners on Saturday before the start of the IPL Governing Council meeting and the way forward will be discussed then. The franchises are clear that while they are okay to have the games minus the fans, they want the foreign players as that is what makes the IPL a cricket carnival.

"Yes, we have been informed that the IPL will now start from April 15, but what we need clarity on the availability of the foreign players. The IPL loses its charm if we don't have the four foreigners in the teams. After all, they are just as integral a part of the teams as the Indian stars," an official of a franchise said as quoted by IANS. 

 

(With IANS Inputs)

Posted By: Talib Khan