It was starting to seem inevitable. And today, the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced that the Indian Premier League for 2021 has been suspended.
Indian cricket authorities held an emergency meeting to discuss what options were available for the competition after the tournament’s biosecure bubble was exposed over the last few days. Considering the disastrous and widespread impacts of India’s latest wave of COVID-19, it’s not overly surprising that a large competition would soon suffer the consequences of the virus.
Teams including the Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals all now have players who have been infected with the virus. The supposed indestructible bubble created by organisers has been broken, and this is the correct and only option available to protect the safety of all people involved.
For Australian players, they are now in an extremely complicated position. The federal government announced this week that travel from India to Australia had been paused until May 15th. Moreover, any attempt by Australians to return home from India could result in them facing 5 years in jail or a fine of up to $66,000. The government has abandoned all Australians living in Australia, and for the players currently in India for the IPL, their options are now limited.
There is an option for players to travel to Dubai and reside there until Australia lifts restrictions on travel; however, there is likely to be significant costs associated with that decision. Yet, players may have no other choice now that the biosecure bubble has been exposed.
The tournament may continue later in the year, possibly in Dubai; however, the primary concern for all people in India right now should be controlling a rampant outbreak of the virus, which isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Therefore, I agree that this is the right decision, and possibly could have occurred a few days earlier so that players could have enough time to organise how they would return home safely.
In terms of the Australian players stuck in India, it’s a tricky position. I don’t advocate for any private charters for the players while other Australians remain stuck in the country. They shouldn’t be given any special advantages which aren’t awarded to the rest of the Australian citizens in India. However, safety must be ensured for the players. Whether this is through a form of hotel quarantine in India until the 15th of May or travel to Dubai, measures need to be implemented by IPL authorities.
It’s a disappointing day for cricket and sports lovers around the world; however, it’s an important reminder that our first priority needs to be ensuring the safety and security of all people, and although we are in May of 2021, COVID-19 is still an active threat to the global community.