India Suspends Cricket League as Players Test Covid Positive
(Bloomberg) -- India’s cricketing regulator suspended the Indian Premier League after multiple players contracted Covid-19, bringing a temporary halt to a tournament that has divided the nation on whether it was appropriate to play sport as thousands of citizens die each day.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India, in an emergency meeting, decided to defer the Indian Premier League 2021 season, according to an emailed statement. The BCCI will help arrange for the “secure and safe passage” of all the participants in IPL, according to the statement.
The Indian Premier League, a franchise-based tournament featuring players from around the world had been functioning in a so-called bio-bubble, which kept away crowds and was meant to protect players from infection.
However, the tournament has attracted critics who called it insensitive to conduct the tournament amid a dire health situation in the country. Several international players decided to return to their home countries earlier in the tournament, while some Indian players declined to participate in the current season to focus on supporting relatives amid a virulent second wave.
The suspension of the tournament also casts doubt on when and how players from Australia will be able to return home, after the country announced over the weekend that nation’s citizens in India who try to return home would be liable for five years in prison and fines of about $50,000. There are 14 Australian players currently in India while others are also part of the support staff or commentary teams for the tournament.
“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association respect the decision of the Australian Government to pause travel from India until at least May 15 and will not seek exemptions,” the two sporting associations said in an emailed statement, adding that Cricket Australia is in touch with the BCCI as it works through plans for safe accommodation and repatriation of Australians.
Shares of Sun TV Ltd., owner of the Hyderabad franchise of the Indian Premier League declined as much as 3.4% after news of the tournament suspension. Other companies that own teams including Reliance Industries Ltd., India Cements Ltd., and United Spirits Ltd. also fell briefly, but most pared losses.
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