India’s lucrative cricket league shifted to UAE due to Covid health crisis
New Delhi, July 24 (efe-epa).- This year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 competition has been shifted to the United Arab Emirates, the league chairman said on Friday, after the cricketing extravaganza was delayed indefinitely amid the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year.
“We have decided to host the 13th edition of IPL in the UAE. The governing council has approved the decision,” IPL chief Brijesh Patel, a former Indian cricketer, told EFE.
Patel said the 2020 edition is likely to begin on Sept 19 and will be played until Nov 8. He indicated that the government in the gulf country has cleared the proposal.
“The window of dates suits franchise teams as well as the broadcasters and stakeholders. There should not be any problem. Arrangements have been made and hurdles cleared.”
He said Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah would be the three main venues for the eight-team league that was originally scheduled to begin on Mar. 29 in India.
Patel, however, didn’t confirm if spectators would be allowed in the UAE stadiums or matches would be played behind closed doors and broadcast live only.
The Indian cricket board in April deferred the contest indefinitely due to the global health crisis triggered by the Covid-19 outbreak and the months of lockdown imposed by the Indian government on its 1.3 billion people.
Since then, the coronavirus crisis has worsened in India, making it the third worst-hit country in the world, with nearly 1.3 million cases and over 30,500 fatalities as of Friday.
This would be the second time in the 13-year history of the tournament that the IPL will be played in the UAE.
The league, quite often called “cricketainment”, was earlier hosted partially in the gulf country in 2014 because of the general elections in India.
The Twenty20 league, a cocktail of sports and entertainment blended in a mix of celebrities and cheerleaders, was launched with huge fanfare in April 2008.
The lucrative tournament has won billions of dollars in advertising and has disrupted much of the conventional cricket across the world since its launch.
The announcement comes a day after the International Cricket Council (ICC) delayed the Men’s T20 World Cup 2020, which was set to be staged in Australia, due to the ongoing pandemic.
The global tournament of the shorter version of the game is to be held “in either 2021 or 2022,” the ICC said.
Cricket Australia Interim chief Nick Hockley said the decision would give them a chance to “safely welcome fans” to enjoy watching the world’s best cricketers compete in 2021 or 2022.
“We would like to thank our government partners and venues for their understanding. We will continue to work closely with them … to the fullest extent possible,” Hockley said in a statement. EFE-EPA