IPL 2021: As the second wave of the coronavirus grips India, cricket fans are worried over its impact on the upcoming IPL 14 matches. While the IPL opener will be played between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai on April 9 starting at 7:30 pm, the Covid scare is looming over the IPL matches scheduled in Mumbai. Trouble deepened after it was reported that several members of the groundstaff team at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai had tested positive for the Covid-19 infections. The latest tally shows that apart from the groudstaff, half a dozen event managers have also been infected with the coronavirus. Delhi Capitals’ Axar Patel has been quarantined after his RT-PCR report showed the viral infection.
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After the string of the infections, there’s been a lot of buzz about the IPL matches being shifted out of Mumbai. The BCCI has, however, so far said that there’s no time to move out. So, as the teams and fans wait with bated breath, here are four reasons why moving out of Mumbai may not help the IPL teams in avoiding the coronavirus:
1: Coronavirus is everywhere, yes, everywhere: India reported over 90,000 new Covid infections on Sunday. With 49, 447 cases, Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in India. So, yes, holding the IPL matches in Mumbai is going to be tough for the organisers. But moving out is not the solution. Simply because no Indian city is corona-free. Also, with the IPL 14 going ahead without any spectators in the stadiums, the movement of players and other staff can be strictly monitored. Mumbai is set to host 10 IPL matches. So, with all restrictions, Mumbai is the best bet for the IPL matches.
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2: Logistics: As of now, four IPL teams have already reached Mumbai and are in a stringent bio-bubble. Shifting the matches would involve lots of inter-state movements. There are reports that Hyderabad is on standby in case the situation goes out of hands in Mumbai. But again, speaking from a logistical point of view, it would mean air travel, travel via roads, new hotels, check-ups, sanitising new venues etc. Apart from being a logistical headache, this increases the chances of players and other staff being exposed to the virus. Better to stick to Mumbai and impose stricter norms, isn’t it?
3: Setting up new bio-bubbles is tough: Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the world of sports has opted for a system called the bio-bubbles or bio-secure environment to ensure that the scheduled tournaments go without any worry with the players staying in relatively risk-free zones. The IPL 2021 will see matches in six cities across India. Arrangements regarding bio-bubbles are already in place in these pre-decided venues. In case, matches are shifted out of Mumbai to a new venue, the IPL organisers would face a harrowing time in setting up the bio-bubbles. All IPL players and staff are required to undergo a 7-day hard quarantine and test before they enter the bio-bubble. With no free movement allowed, setting up the bio-secure environment at short notice may not be possible.
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4: Players’ fatigue: At present, the IPL 14 rules state that during the league stage, each team will play only at four venues. This would reduce the travel time. The 52-day series will see closed-door matches in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. From Virat Kohli to Akash Chopra, several present and former players have voiced their concerns over the bio-bubble fatigue and impact of such stringent restrictions on one’s game. With all players well-aware of the IPL schedule, introducing any additional travel may have an adverse effect on the players.