The Quint’s Newsletter: An IPL in The Time Of a Global Pandemic

·3-min read

Yes, it really is happening.

Suspended from its original starting date of 29 March due to coronavirus, the ‘Indian’ Premier League this time will be played entirely in the UAE starting 19 September. Moving the venue may have solved some problems for the BCCI, but with over 500 personnel involved in the tournament — most of whom will be travelling from India — the issue of everyone's safety will be paramount.

Cue 'bio-secure environment'.

It's a term introduced to cricket by England when they hosted the restart of the sport post the COVID-19 lockdowns with the Test series against West Indies. Imagine a bubble, divide it into zones, get tested before entering each zone, and restrict movement from one to another — that's the best chance you have of pulling off this eight-team tournament with matches every day for 53 days.

To put a number to it, a player must test negative six times from the time they join their IPL team's camps in India to the time they're done with their seven-day isolation in the UAE.

But, what if...

What if someone inside this 'bio-secure environment' tests positive during the IPL? It's an obvious question to ask.

The BCCI's answer is an SOP that's followed for any regular positive test — isolate the said person, contact trace, observe 14-day quarantine, and get tested negative twice to re-enter the IPL. In other words, the IPL party continues.

One party, however, wrapped up even before the season started — title sponsor Vivo, the IPL's big-ticket deal.

Also Read: BCCI and Vivo ‘Suspend Partnership’ For IPL in 2020

The Chinese phone company and the BCCI have suspended the contract for this season, leaving the IPL with the unlikely prospect of finding another company to match the Rs 439.8 crore that Vivo was paying for a season. Incidentally, though, Vivo's collaboration with the IPL started when its previous title sponsor, Pepsi, had pulled out of its contract two years early. The Chinese phone company's five-year deal saw a 554% increase in what Pepsi was paying — and it seems unlikely that a new bidder will match the hefty amount.

Speaking of unlikely and other issues that need to be addressed by the BCCI — and has so far been ignored — is the domestic cricket season. Every year, by July, the calendar is announced but with the board sharing a tough-to-pull-off SOP for the domestic teams, many tournaments are expected to get cancelled this season.

How the BCCI will pull off an unprecedented IPL and keep a schedule for the domestic season that doesn't disturb the sports calendar for the next year remains to be seen.

Mendra Dorjey Sahni
Sports Editor

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