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IPL: Indian Premier League suspended indefinitely due to Covid-19 crisis

In a statement on Tuesday, the tournament organizers said that “while we have tried to bring something positive and cheer, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone returns to their families and loved ones in these difficult times.”

It is unclear when and where the cricket tournament, which attracts the world’s best cricketers on big money contracts, will resume.

The number of coronavirus cases in India has now crossed 20 million as the country reported 357,229 cases on Tuesday, according to figures released by the Ministry of Health.

Before Tuesday, the organizers had pushed ahead with the tournament despite the withdrawal of several high-profile players and called for a postponement.

The IPL had functioned under severe bubbles as teams moved between games across the country; for Sunriser’s Hyderabad players, it even meant carrying the PPE from head to toe for an internal flight to Delhi.

But with cases rising across the country and hospitals running out of oxygen and vital drugs, game administrators were pressured to do more.

Organizers met with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for an emergency meeting this week and unanimously decided to cancel the tournament.

“BCCI does not wish to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and other participants involved in the organization of the IPL. This decision was made taking into account the safety, health and well – being of all stakeholders,” the statement read.

READ: ‘Some days it doesn’t feel right’: Watching cricket as India battles the devastating second wave
The Indian Super League attracts the very best players on the planet.

‘I have seen many lives lost’

According to Forbes, the IPL is the sixth most valuable sports league in the world behind the NFL, the Champions League and the four biggest domestic football competitions in Europe.

Some argued postponing or canceling the tournament would have economic and social costs.

“There is an entire ecosystem that the IPL maintains … provides a livelihood for a few million Indians, if not more,” Indian cricket journalist Boria Majumdar told CNN Sport before the suspension was announced.

“We are talking about a huge economic system here. By stopping the IPL, what are you doing? You are plunging the nation into more gloom, talking about more debt and more pandemic.”

India’s Broadcast Audience Research Council found viewership in the opening week of last season’s IPL rose 15%, with 269 million viewers tuning in to seven matches across 21 channels.

Nevertheless, some fans had been uncomfortable that the tournament was continuing before the news of the suspension came on Tuesday.

“It does not make me feel good. I have seen many lives lost,” Oswald Dsouza, 55, a passionate cricket fan from Bangalore, told CNN Sport last week.

“On the one hand, you have people losing their precious lives, and on the other hand, you are talking about entertainment and commercial cricket.

“Yes, I love IPL too, but life means something at the end of the day. What is the point of continuing with IPL when we have lost so many lives.”

What’s next?

With the postponement now confirmed, many foreign players currently in India for the tournament may appear to be flying home.

However, they may face weeks of quarantine with countries around the world restricting travel to and from India while cases remain so high.

In Australia, anyone who has been to India 14 days before Monday is now blocked from entering the country, including Australian citizens, under the country’s Biosafety Act.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied that the ban on arrivals is racist, reducing the chance of imprisonment for those caught in breach of the rules.

On Monday, about 9,000 Australians in India were registered with the government wishing to return to Australia.

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