The IPL is a huge revenue earner with an estimation of generating more than $11 billion and involves cricket’s top international stars.
The Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s most lucrative cricket competition, on Friday postponed the start of this year’s tournament amid mounting anxiety in India over the coronavirus pandemic.
While the country of 1.3 billion has reported just one death from coronavirus and 81 confirmed cases, the government has ordered measures against travel and public gatherings similar to the worst-hit nations.
Postponing the cricket tournament, which draws the world’s top players from Australia, England and South Africa, and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues each year dominated Indian headlines on Friday.
It came as a virtual halt on incoming tourists and business visitors came into effect from Friday.
Most of the foreign cricketers would not have been able to play in the IPL because of the visa restrictions.
And the government has also ordered the closing of about half of its 37 land border crossing points with neighbouring Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal from Saturday.
Halting the IPL came after New Delhi and Mumbai banned large gatherings for sporting events.
Delhi and the southern state of Karnataka have also ordered schools, cinemas and theatres to close.
The start of the IPL has been put back from March 29 until April 15 “as a precautionary measure” over the coronavirus, the Indian cricket board said.
Media reports said that even if the tournament does start after April 15 it was likely to be without fans in the stadium. The two month tournament is a huge revenue earner.
The Twenty20 competition is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy and involves cricket’s top international stars like England’s Ben Stokes, Australia’s David Warner and Indian captain Virat Kohli.
Chinese mobile-maker Vivo paid $330 million to be the top sponsor for 2018-2022 for the league.
It involves eight teams playing 60 matches to packed, raucous stadiums of tens of thousands of spectators across India.
The three-match ODI series between India and South Africa has been called off in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A day after it was revealed that the remaining matches in the series will be played in empty stadiums, sources in the know of things said that the series itself will now be called off.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) later confirmed the news in a tweet. “CONFIRMED: The #INDvSA ODI series has been suspended in the wake of a growing number of coronavirus cases.” The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) or Cricket South Africa (CSA) are yet to put out official statements of their own.
On Thursday, the first match of the series in Dharamsala was washed out and the second and third, slated to be held in Lucknow and Kolkata respectively, were to be played in empty stadiums.
The development comes on a day when the BCCI announced that it has deferred the upcoming season of the IPL.
The Sports Ministry in an advisory addressed to the BCCI, National Sports Federations and Indian Olympic Association, asked for public gatherings during sporting events be avoided.
“To deal with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued advisories and advised the State Governments to take appropriate action under the Epidemic Diseases Act,1897.
“You are advised to adhere to the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event.
“In the event, the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of people, including spectators,” the Sports Ministry said.