IPL postponed amid corona fears


NEW DELHI — More than three cricketing events, including the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), fell victims to coronavirus fears, as the global pandemic continued to decimate sporting events.

In the latest development, the start of the 13th edition of the IPL was postponed. The decision to put off the tournament, which was scheduled to begin from March 29, was taken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) top brass lead by its President Sourav Ganguly and Secretary Jay Shah along with the top management of the IPL after an advisory was issued by the government of India.

The IPL governing body has communicated the same to all of the 8 franchises on Friday, saying it would meet the owners on Saturday in person. The BCCI media release on Friday afternoon said that the board is “suspending” the IPL until April 15 as “precautionary measure” to contain the novel Coronavirus.

The release said, “The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that, all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience,” and added, “The BCCI will work closely with the government of India along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and all other relevant Central and State Government departments in this regard.”

Also on Friday, India called off two remaining One-Day Internationals against South Africa because of the coronavirus pandemic, the cricket board said. The first of the three-match series in Dharamsala on Thursday was washed out without a ball being bowled.

"Cricket South Africa will visit India at a later date to play three One-Day Internationals," the BCCI said in a statement. The games were called off hours after the BCCI postponed the start of IPL.

Another cricketing event in the international calendar to be called off was the England tour of Sri Lanka. The England's cricket team pulled out of the tour on Friday over the coronavirus pandemic.

A practice match in Colombo was halted as the team announced they would be flying back to London. "At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount," said an England and Wales cricket Board statement announcing the end of the tour.

The abrupt end to the tour followed as Sri Lanka shut schools across the country and banned travelers from Iran, Italy and South Korea and stopped issuing on-arrival visas to nationals of 48 countries, including Britain.

But amid this sporting carnage, the Pakistan's Twenty20 league will continue despite closed stadiums and an exodus of foreign players who are heading home over the coronavirus crisis, cricketing authorities in the country said Friday.

The Pakistan cricket Board (PCB) said upcoming matches would be played in an empty stadium in Karachi, and offered teams and individual players the option to withdraw from the league. The PCB also shortened the league, replacing playoffs with two semifinals (both in Lahore on March 17) and the final on March 18, instead of March 22, also in Lahore. — SG