IPL Trophy
IPL Trophy

The coronavirus pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China in November 2019 started spreading in early February of this year. This is primarily because Chinese authorities did not report it at the right time, despite repeated alerts of the dangers the virus threat poses.

With over 1,28,000 affected, 4,720 have died to the outbreak. It has led to many cities being under lock down with its occupants quarantined.

Sporting events all over the world are postponed or cancelled with some being held behind closed doors to avoid mass gathering and spread of the virus.

NBA, Premier League, La Liga, Champions League and Bahrain Grand Prix are some of the events which have been postponed or are being held without fans due to the outbreak.

However, in India, the festival of cricket, the Indian Premier League is arriving soon and the officials are yet to confirm its status.

The Sports Ministry on Thursday asked all national federations to ensure that any sporting event in India is conducted without any public gathering.

"To deal with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued advisories and advised the state governments to take appropriate action under the Epidemic Diseases Act,1897.

"You are advised to adhere to the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event. In the event, the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing the gathering of people, including spectators," the Sports Ministry said in a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and all national sports federations including the BCCI.

While the statement suggests that the matches will be held behind closed doors, it is more reasonable to cancel or to some extent, postpone this year's IPL until it is safe.

Sportsperson are not immune to the virus and that was proven right with the recent case of Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi and Australia's Kane Richardson who tested positive of coronavirus.

During the matches, player contacts are inevitable in one way or other and with that, the chance of spreading the virus increases thereby putting the whole nation's lives at risk.

Even if the matches are played behind closed doors, the fans, who are an important part of sports will not be present. And that means no cheering, no chants, no banners and no stadium waves. If fans make the game whole, what is the point of playing without their presence?

Another reason why fans and spectators are important; If the ball reaches the stands after a batsman slams it for a four or six, the crowd throws it back on the field but this cannot be the case if there are no spectators. And in the ongoing first ODI between Australia and New Zealand, Kiwi pacer Lockie Ferguson went into the stands himself to fetch the ball.

The franchise sponsors are in fear over their potential losses. Many player-fan interaction sessions, meet and greet events have been arranged but again, if fans are not present, that could prove to be a huge loss for the sponsors.

Visa restrictions have been imposed on foreign players until April 15 which is more than 15 days after the scheduled start of the IPL on March 29 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

How does IPL without the likes of Ben Stokes, Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers and many more sound?

On Friday, March 13, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on made it clear that no sporting activity will take place in the national capital, including the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

That brings up the question of where will Delhi Capitals play their home games?

However, IPL's fate will be decided on Saturday, March 14 at the event's Governing Council meeting in Mumbai.

India has reported 74 positive cases including one death in the outbreak which has led to 4,720 deaths globally.

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Free Press Journal