How did BCCI brave Covid-19, other challenges to hold most-watched IPL ever? Treasurer Arun Dhumal reveals

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New Delhi | November 23, 2020 1:20 PM

IPL 2020 in time of Coronavirus Covid-19: Covid-19 tests for 1,800 individuals were conducted but the highly contagious disease failed to have any adverse impact on any of the 60 matches of IPL 2020 that were played among eight teams

ipl 2020, ipl 2020 revenue, ipl 2020 viewership, ipl 2020 trp, ipl 2020 points table, ipl 2020 news, ipl 2020 first match, Coronavirus India, Coronavirus update, Coronavirus news, covid 19 India,Mumbai Indians bagged the record 5th title by defeating Delhi Capitals in the finals. (Image - IPL twitter handle)

Cricket is considered a religion in India and it has proven to be immune to even Coronavirus given the success of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 2020 edition. IPL 2020, which was shifted to United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the prevalent pandemic situation, has helped the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) fetch a revenue of staggering Rs 4,000 crore. Apart from filling the coffer of BCCI, IPL 2020 viewership witnessed around a 25 per cent increase from the 2019 edition of the cash-rich cricket tournament, BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal told media.

Covid-19 tests for 1,800 individuals were conducted but the highly contagious disease failed to have any adverse impact on any of the 60 matches of IPL 2020 that were played among eight teams at three venues – Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Dhumal revealed the nitty-gritty of IPL 2020 without divulging too many details on the breakup of revenue or viewership of IPL 2020. It must be noted that IPL 2020 was held without spectators at the stadiums due to Covid-19 pandemic situation and it was also India’s first major sporting tournament since the outbreak of Coronavirus. BCCI was banking on five-year broadcast and media rights inked with Star that worth Rs 16,347 crore. Prior to the tournament, Chinese smartphone manufacturer VIVO pulled out and fantasy sports platform Dream11 was awarded the IPL 2020’s title sponsorship for Rs 222 crore.

The BCCI had to cut 35 per cent of the cost of this year’s tournament as compared to the IPL 2019. Apart from the Rs 4,000 crore revenue during the pandemic situation and overall growth in viewership, IPL 2020 opening match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians garnered the highest-ever viewership for any opening match in the tournament’s history. Those who cast doubt over the tournament eventually thanked BCCI, Dhumal said.

However, it was not a cakewalk for BCCI to host IPL 2020 from September 19 to November 10 in UAE. IPL 2020 was shrouded in trepidation after World No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic tested Covid-19 positive while taking part in exhibition matches held in Serbia and Croatia. After the episode, many advised BCCI not to organize IPL this year. However, an undaunted BCCI secretary Jay Shah expressed confidence in holding the IPL 2020, Dhumal told Indian Express.

BCCI had received two formal invitations for hosting the IPL 2020 – one was from Sri Lanka Cricket Board and the other was from Emirates Cricket Board. BCCI chose UAE as the venue since a portion of IPL 2014 was held in that country and teams could travel by bus to all the venues which would cost less. BCCI had 40 conference calls that lasted several hours, virtual meetings deliberating on the safety of players, and tie up with Restrata to ensure a bio-secure bubble, as per the IE report.

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was issued after discussions with experts, and discount rates at hotels were secured. Mumbai Indians emerged as the largest contingent to take part in IPL 2020 with over 150 members. There were a tailor, a make-up artist, and a hair-dresser as part of the contingent. BCCI, meanwhile, had booked 200 rooms separately in order to ensure Covid-19 patients, if any, would require to be quarantined, Dhumal revealed.

There were impediments as dozen members of Chennai Super Kings tested Covid-19 positive. Dubai authorities did relax the quarantine period norms but Abu Dhabi officials were reluctant to extend any relaxation. However, BCCI officials managed to convince Abu Dhabi officials, the IE report says.

In the end, IPL 2020 turned out to be the most competitive ever in the tournament’s history with three teams- Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings, and Rajasthan Royals finished on 12 points, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Sun Risers Hyderabad finished on 14 points. Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals finished the league stage as the top two teams respectively. Mumbai Indians bagged the record 5th title by defeating Delhi Capitals in the finals.

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