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IPL cricket tournament suspended amid worsening Covid crisis in India

The Guardian - Tue May 4 08:25

The Indian Premier League has been postponed with immediate effect due to the deepening Covid-19 crisis in the country.

The competition has been carrying on against the backdrop of a public health emergency due to a huge coronavirus surge but with multiple reports of franchise bubbles being breached by positive cases, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s governing council unanimously voted to suspend the action. English and Australian participants are among those now looking for safe transit out of the country.

“The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect,” a statement on the official IPL website read. “The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times. The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.”

Mumbai Indians were due to play Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday, in what would have been the 31st match of a scheduled 60, but Sunrisers became the third franchise to reportedly return a positive Covid-19 case among their staff a matter of hours before the planned start. Two players from the Kolkata Knight Riders and two of the Chennai Super Kings backroom team also tested positive over the weekend, leading to enforced quarantine and postponed fixtures.

England’s 11-strong IPL contingent is led by limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, with Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Sam Billings, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Tom and Sam Curran all involved.

Earlier, the former Test cricketer turned commentator Michael Slater accused Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, of having “blood on his hands” as the Covid-19 crisis escalates. Slater, who has been in India to commentate on the IPL, said in a Twitter post that the government’s policy of temporarily preventing Australians from returning home was a “disgrace”.

With Covid cases soaring, flights from India have been banned by the Morrison government until 15 May. Penalties include a hefty fine or even jail for citizens attempting to repatriate. Slater, who reportedly flew to the Maldives with no way back to Australia after the ban was introduced, said fellow citizens stranded in India were being neglected by their government.

“If our government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home,” he wrote. “It’s a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out [the] quarantine system. I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect.”