Coronavirus threat over IPL 2020: Overseas players to be unavailable till April 15 due to fresh visa restrictions

IPL is scheduled to begin on March 29 between the Chennai Super Kings and the defending champions Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

IPL is scheduled to begin on March 29 (Image: IPL, Twitter)

The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League is under the cloud of coronavirus as the foreign players are likely to be unavailable till April 15 in accordance with the travel restrictions imposed by the government in wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, reported the news agency PTI. The visas issued to overseas players every year come under the category of Business visa added the report quoting a top BCCI official. Subsequently, it is highly unlikely the government will issue visas under this category amid the stringent provisions of issuance of a visa.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued a travel advisory that notified the suspension of all kinds of visas issued for the foreign nationals but with some exceptions. The government had allowed waivers for the UN or other international organisation officials, diplomats, employees and it is highly unlikely that the overseas cricketers will be made part of that exception group.

The absence of overseas players for at least the first two weeks will jeopardize the popularity of the league. The likes of AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Lasith Malinga have been proven crowd-pullers who have contributed massively in the rapid boom of IPL’s positioning as one of the best leagues in the world.

The visa issue will come as another blow for the BCCI who is dealing with other issues such as logistics and safety of players as well as spectators. The BCCI and the Maharashtra government has not been on the same page on the issue of hosting the IPL 2020, at least in Maharashtra. The Health Minister of Maharashtra Rajesh Tope had also suggested that the IPL can be postponed till the time coronavirus recedes global and especially in India. However, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has reportedly refused to take that call and said that the IPL is on. He had added that that the BCCI will take adequate measures to protect the players from coronavirus but the tournament will go ahead as planned.

Meanwhile, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court to postpone the IPL. The petitioner has argued that nearly 30,000 people will travel to stadiums for the matches and that can lead to a contagion of the COVID-19. However, the vacation bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice UU Lalit and Aniruddha Bose has declined an urgent hearing of the petition. The bench has said that the matter will be taken with other regular affairs on March 16 when the court will open after the ongoing Holi vacations.

IPL is scheduled to begin on March 29 between the Chennai Super Kings and the defending champions Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The absence of overseas players will take the life out of the marquee event and hence BCCI has a quagmire at its hands to deal with if it goes ahead and holds the event as planned.

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