Coronavirus threat has also affected sports sector to a large extent! Due to fear of the spread of this deadly disease there is a strong possibility that IPL 2020 will take place behind closed doors, this is because the Indian Government has indicated that the sporting events will not be stopped from taking place as long as they adhere strictly to health-ministry guidelines discouraging mass gatherings.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The announcement was made on Thursday by Kiren Rijiju, India’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports. It remains to be seen how this development will affect the remaining matches of the ODI series between India and South Africa, which began on Thursday in Dharamsala. The second ODI is scheduled to be played in Lucknow on March 15, and the third ODI in Kolkata on March 18.
On March 5, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare put out an advisory on mass gatherings, which said: “Experts across the World have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus disease. In view of above, it is advised that mass gatherings may be avoided or possibly be postponed till the disease spread is contained.
“In case any such mass gatherings are organized, States may take necessary action guide the Organisers on precautions to be taken as per the risk communication material already sent so as to avoid any Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases and Influenz Illness (ILs) including Covid-19.”
Rijiju said the guidelines on mass gatherings had been overseen by a group of ministers formed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Talking about the matter, Rijiju in an interview with the reporters outside the Parliament said, “All international events in India have been cancelled, But we are telling sports federations, we are telling all to comply with the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and formulated by a group of ministers which is constituted by the Prime Minister. So any sports body in India should ensure [the guidelines are followed].”
Asked specifically about the IPL, which is scheduled to start on March 29, Rijiju indicated that fans are likely not to be allowed at the grounds as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. We are not stopping the game,” he said. “We are just telling to ensure that there is no mass gathering. Precautionary step is very important for the health of the country.”
Considering that IPL matches are usually attended by several thousand fans across all venues, Rijiju said the organisers would need to ensure that safety of the “people” is not put at risk. “That is the guideline,” Rijiju said. “Health of the nation is more important than anything. If matches happen the organisers would need to put in place all infrastructure including screening machines. You cannot hold a match without that.
Rijiju said that, “We are not saying anything to stop the match. We are just saying: even if they go ahead with the match, ensure that guidelines are followed. People’s health cannot be put into danger.”
The IPL Governing Council is scheduled to meet on March 14 to discuss the fate of the tournament, let’s see whether IPL matches will commence on the scheduled dates behind closed doors or it will be postponed on further dates so that fans can witness and enjoy the matches in stadium!