Indians supported their cricket board BCCI’s decision to suspend the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) due to the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.
The IPL was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday (May 4) due to the COVID-19 crisis in the country, leaving many international players with major concerns over how they will return home.
The BCCI and the league’s governing council members convened an emergency meeting at which they decided to suspend the tournament with immediate effect.
The BCCI had forged ahead with the league despite fierce criticism for staging it in a country where coronavirus infections surged past 20 million on Tuesday.
The eight-team IPL, with an estimated brand value of $6.8 billion, is the richest Twenty20 league and attracts many of the best players from around the world to cricket-crazy India.
As many as 57 foreign players, including 14 Australians, are currently stuck in India along with dozens of support staff.
A suspension looked almost inevitable after Monday’s (May 3) game in Ahmedabad had to be postponed after two Kolkata Knight Riders players tested positive for COVID-19.
Two non-playing members of Chennai Super Kings team also contracted the virus in Delhi, prompting questions about the robustness of the league’s bio-bubble arrangements.
The abrupt suspension left foreign players, including England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan and Australia’s Steve Smith and David Warner, with a major headache.
Australia has banned all arrivals from India until May 15 and England has added India to its travel “red” list.
In a letter to the franchises last month, the league assured them they would discuss the foreign players’ travel arrangements with the Indian government.
Cricket Australia declined to comment when asked if it had any plans to try and bring its players home.
Hours before the league was suspended, the Australian Cricketers’ Association said it would talk to the Australian government about the players’ travel plans.
Australian players Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson cut short their IPL stints to return home last week.
Former Australia test batsman Michael Slater, now working as a commentator, strongly criticised the Australian government for its decision to ban citizens in COVID-ravaged India from returning home, saying Prime Minister Scott Morrison has “blood” on his hands.
The IPL’s suspension also casts doubt on this year’s Twenty20 World Cup which is scheduled to take place in India in October-November.
The total number of infections topped 20 million, propelled by a 12th straight day of more than 300,000 new cases in a pandemic sparked by a virus first identified in central China at the end of 2019.
Hospitals have filled to capacity, supplies of medical oxygen have run short and morgues and crematoriums have been overloaded with corpses. Patients are dying on hospital beds, in ambulances and in carparks outside.