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Should India Host the IPL Amid Rising COVID Cases? Well, Why Not!

Despite rising cases of COVID-19 in India, here’s why the IPL can continue on as planned.

Updated
IPL
4 min read

Three Indian cricketers have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) – two, while under quarantine at their team hotel, and one at home.

In Mumbai, a member of Chennai Super Kings’ staff and ground staffers at the Wankhede Stadium, too, returned positive results, along with some members of the IPL’s event management team.

This comes at a time when Mumbai reported over 11,000 cases on Sunday. All while the state chief minister continues to sound warnings, that the city is on the brink of a strict lockdown.

The BCCI, though, is confident that the 10 matches scheduled for Mumbai, till 25 April, will go ahead as planned.

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But then, the question does arise, what is the need for an IPL during such a time, when the country is in the middle of what is definitely the second wave of COVID-19. One that is probably even more dangerous than the first, with many variants and drastically rising number of cases every day.

The answer? For a minute, just forget about the big salaries drawn by the IPL players and the profits to be made by the BCCI and think of the ground staff across stadiums in India, who got minimal salaries after almost the entire last season of cricket was wiped out due to COVID, and the IPL went to the UAE.

Think about the umpires and statisticians and the scores of people who depend solely on cricket for their livelihood.

Why should their incomes be affected once again, when the rest of the country is back to work in full force?

And I say this because it is very important to also point out that everyone associated with the IPL, in fact, is possibly among the safest in the country with the bio-bubble created by the BCCI, following the most stringent testing and safety protocols.

Think of the bubble as a heavily guarded area, protected against the virus due to the strict protocols and rules in place.

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How to Enter IPL’s Bio-Bubble:

  1. Testing protocols kick in even before the players leave their hometowns and all have to return a negative RT-PCR test before leaving for their team’s home base city
  2. Then there’s a seven-day compulsory quarantine in the team hotel, that involves a test almost every alternate day. Three in total. Only after that, you would have passed all ‘checkposts’ and be allowed to enter the bio-bubble
  3. Once in the bubble, an individual remains there till the end of the IPL. No player or official or ground staffer goes out for lunches or dinners and there is zero interaction with anyone who is not part of the bubble. Here as well, testing continues throughout the season, in fact, every second day.

Each of the eight teams and the broadcast team, the officials, the ground staff and even the drivers of buses the teams travel in, have to undergo this testing. They all stay in separate bio-bubbles.

The area of the hotels they stay in has been cordoned off from the rest of the public, with even elevator access limited to just the teams.

The staff of the hotel is also inside the bio-bubble, with them having made a commitment to not leave and re-enter till the teams leave the hotels.

Does that not sound like the safest of places to be in, during such times?

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Players and Staffers Test Positive Before Season Starts

The many cases of players and officials testing positive before the season are a cause of concern but their early detection, due to the league’s safety protocols, also prove just how safe the bio-bubble is.

Kolkata Knight Riders’ Nitish Rana tested negative before flying into Mumbai to join the team. When he entered the team’s hotel and went into his seven-day compulsory quarantine, he was tested on the second day and this time he tested positive.

There had been no interaction with the team since he had been sent straight into quarantine after landing, according to the rules, and COVID was detected when he was spending seven days alone in his room.

Devdutt Padikkal was diagnosed positive in the test at his home, that he was required to undergo before he could leave for the team’s camp.

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Axar Patel tested negative before leaving for Mumbai and also in the first test at his hotel. It was only in his second test that the result was positive and he’s now gone into an extended 12-day quarantine and will have to return two negative tests before being allowed to join his team

And for cases involving ground staffers at Wankhede or the event management team members testing positive, the bio-bubble, too, has different levels.

For example, till the start of the season, even brothers Sam Curran and Tom Curran cannot be in close contact and definitely not without masks. Same applies for the ground staff. Everyone goes about their work, in their own bubble.

So, why should the IPL not continue if safety of the people involved is pretty much a priority and there’s very little chance of anyone associated with the league actually going out and spreading the virus, if they do turn out to be positive.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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