After months of speculations over its future, the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will played in United Arab Emirates between September and November - a window which is now open due to the postponement of T20 World Cup.
Well, this year's IPL is slated to be the most-watched IPL in history. But, is it really advisable to hold the IPL at all?
The coronavirus still poses a threat to the world and with no cure for the virus, should UAE - a country where coronavirus is a minor threat compared to India - host the IPL?
The Free Press Journal and ABP Network have decided to hold a full-fledged debate on the same motion. The first debate is scheduled for Friday, July 31 at 5 pm. It will be a virtual debate which is the new 'common' in times of coronavirus.
The first debate, however, ended with 'against the motion' speakers turning the tables in their favours.
With that said, let us skim through the highlights of The Bombay Debate:
Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of COVID-19 taskforce in Maha government, expressed his views against the motion - should IPL be held at all?
As cricket is a congregation sport, there is high risk of COVID-19 transmission, said Joshi, adding that BCCI should have waited for six more months.
"If you feel cricket is a bigger priority than saving lives God help you," said Joshi.
Among the panelists, Joshi was the only one against the motion. In support of IPL being held this year, former India cricketer and head coach of Zimbabwe national team, Lalchand Rajput believes IPL must be conducted in a safer environment. He said, "The UAE government must have precautions for the players."
Neeraj Kumar, former police commissioner of Delhi, said holding IPL will be a morale booster. While the sporting world has been on a long break, the "government is helping in returning to normal in phases," he said.
He further added that the mental state of players is being affected due to no cricket in play.
Kumar was struck with a question of betting on such anticipated sporting events. With a break in sports, betting events took the drain. But as they return, questions of betting events returning took surface. Speaking about the same, Kumar said, "IPL may attract betting but such people anyways look for reasons to bet."
Jatin Paranjpe, BCCI national selector, believes the board has made a calculated move regarding IPL 2020 being held in UAE. "IPL is a flagship brand. BCCI has balanced out financial and medical risk and has taken a calculated move. Building of a bubble is possible. It's a well-thought decision," he said.
Ashish Shelar, former BJP politician and currently a leading advocate, took the debate by force in support of IPL being held in UAE this year. Shelar believes sportsmen belong on the field. With a massive break in cricket due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, IPL is needed for viewer entertainment, said Shelar, adding that "many allied industries are also waiting."
Supporting the move, Shelar said UAE government is ready to take the responsibility. He also believes that India will benefit if IPL is conducted this year despite the pandemic.
Shelar cited the example of small scale and film industries starting again. He believes that with proper safety norms and precautions, conducting the IPL is necessary.
However, Joshi, the only person against the motion was quick to counter all the aforementioned points. He cited the example of sports' biggest brand, Tokyo Olympics, which is postponed to 2021.
He even brought up the argument of Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) Bharat - a term announced by PM Modi during one of his speeches. Joshi believes if we want IPL, it should be held in India.
Joshi concluded his argument and said going ahead with IPL is a 'reckless and restless behaviour'.
Coming on to the jury members, Poonam Dhillon and Dinkar Gupta, the former questioned the panelists asking, "Who is taking responsibility of the players?"
Dhillon believes conducting IPL 2020 is commercially driven.
Gupta, on the other hand, agreed with Joshi. He believes we need to wait be careful as COVID-19 in India is resurfacing.
Watch the debate below: