BCCI bans entry of spectators at Narendra Modi stadium: How sports events are faring amid coronavirus pandemic

By: |
March 18, 2021 3:31 PM

The BCCI has taken the decision to ban the entry of spectators, keeping in consideration the second wave of coronavirus that the country seems to be witnessing.

England are fielding the same playing XI from the previous match.England are fielding the same playing XI from the previous match.

Coronavirus in India: India and England’s ongoing T20 series witnessed the third T20 match being played behind closed doors at Motera’s Narendra Modi Stadium on Tuesday. This was a major change, as the previous two matches had been played among an audience, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to ban the entry of spectators due to the sharp spike in cases of coronavirus that Gujarat is witnessing, according to a report in IE. But how are stadiums globally balancing sports and the coronavirus pandemic?

Why has the entry of spectators been banned?

The BCCI has taken the decision to ban the entry of spectators, keeping in consideration the second wave of coronavirus that the country seems to be witnessing. The decision of the BCCI was shared with the media by Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) Vice President Dhanraj Nathwani, who said that the spectators would not be allowed in the stadium during the T20 International series in Ahmedabad.

The decision was taken by the BCCI after it held talks with the GCA, and the cricket body said that they would be complying with all the regulations that would aid in curbing the spread of the pandemic. Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani also praised the decision.

BCCI has also announced that the three ODIs scheduled to be played in Pune would also not be allowing spectators.

Response to allowing of fans earlier

Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium had hosted the second Test match against England and that had been the first time since March 2020 that spectators were allowed to watch the match in India. For this, however, the stadium had only allowed visitors up to 50% of its capacity, so that social distancing norms could be adhered to. Multiple violations of the guidelines were still witnessed as fans were spotted not wearing masks or were found violating the social distancing norms.

In fact, at the Day/Night Test at Motera’s Narendra Modi stadium, a fan evaded security and ran to the field to meet cricketer Virat Kohli, breaching the players’ bio-bubble.

Violations have also been witnessed at Chhattisgarh’s Road Safety World Series, leading to severe criticism.

The scenario of other stadiums in India

While the domestic matches are continuing to be played in the absence of spectators, the ongoing ODI series and the previous T20 Series between Indian women’s cricket team and South Africa was played in Uttar Pradesh with only 10% of the stadium capacity being filled with spectators. Though the UP cricket association or UPCA had been in talks with BCCI to have up to 50% of the spectators, the 10% limit was decided due to the rising number of cases.

Meanwhile, the ISSF World Cup for pistol, shotgun and rifle events slated to be held at Delhi’s Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range beginning March 18 would also not have any spectators. Moreover, Indian Super League’s entire season had been played at three venues in Goa without any spectators, with the league spending a whopping Rs 17 crore on managing the pandemic. It created 18 bio-bubbles and conducted 70,000 RT-PCR tests for the event, and its efforts had been praised by BCCI President Sourav Ganguly.

Protocols in stadiums across the world

The Afghanistan-Zimbabwe Test Series in Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka-West Indies series in Antigua and numerous other international cricket matches were played without an audience, while the Pakistan Super League earlier this month was cancelled in light of several players and officials testing positive for the virus.

Another key event in the world of sports amid the pandemic was when during the Australian Open last month, Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz’ match was halted and spectators were asked to leave mid-match as a lockdown had been announced by Victoria state. After this, the Grand Slam continued without any spectators for the next five days, before fans were allowed again.

The Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit later this month would only allow those spectators who are able to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, most of the international football tournaments are also not allowing fans to enter the stadium.

Safety measures for IPL, Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020

The IPL would be held without spectators this year as well, while the UEFA has said that Euro 2020 tournament would be conducted. However, the decision regarding whether fans would be allowed at Euro 2020 or not would only be taken in April. For the Tokyo Olympics, organisers have given hints that they might not allow foreign fans to attend the games, and they are also planning to isolate the athletes in a bio-bubble at the Olympic Village.

For the Olympics, participants would also be required to wear masks, follow social distancing norms and also not cheer out loud.

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