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The government has made it clear to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that any sporting event that has to be held amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak will have to be behind closed doors and the franchises are okay with the idea of the IPL being held with empty stands. But they wish for their foreign players to be made available from the start of the season.

Speaking to IANS, an official of one of the franchises said that with the government making its stance clear and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the coronavirus outbreak a "pandemic", there is no other option than to play the match behind closed doors.

"See, the gate money is no issue as these things are insured. As for the fans, it is disappointing, but we don't really have much of an option as we have to abide by the diktat of the central government and even WHO has declared the outbreak a "pandemic".

"This makes it clear that if we have to have an IPL this year, it has to be behind closed doors. So now, would we rather want an IPL where fans can watch the games on television or we don't want an IPL in 2020? So, we are okay with that, but the BCCI must sit down and speak to the central government to make an exception and allow the foreign players to come in before April 15 as the IPL loses its sheen otherwise," the official said.

An official of another franchise made it clear that the BCCI must ensure that they sit down with the concerned governmental departments and ensure that at least the foreign players are handed permission as they are already touring around the world.

"See, the Proteas are already in the country, so as per the directive, they can easily stay back. Also, if you see, the Englishmen are already in Sri Lanka and the Kiwis are playing the Aussies in Australia, so they are anyway on the road. We just need the BCCI to sit down with the governmental departments and get us the clearance so that we can have the IPL with foreign players. The whole tournament will lose its charm if the foreign players are not there. It is the biggest cricket carnival in the world for a reason," the official told IANS.

A second meeting of the Group of Ministers on Wednesday cancelled all visas, except for a few official categories, till April 15 in the wake of the growing scare.

In the meeting held at Nirman Bhavan in the national capital, it was decided that all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till April 15 as the coronavirus outbreak has already seen over 60 positive cases in India.

The BCCI is expected to take a final call on the matter in the IPL Governing Council meeting in Mumbai on Saturday.

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