Covid-19: Decision still pending on the fate of IPL 2020

Mumbai: The prospects of a full-fledged 13th edition of the Indian Premier League are becoming bleaker by day, as the number of Covid-19 patients is increasing in the country and states are taking stringent measures to counter the spread of the disease.

Sources at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said they were hopeful of organising the IPL this year, but didn’t want to jump to any decision as the situation was developing. “It is one step at a time. We are closely monitoring the situation and in talks with the IPL governing council, Star India (broadcast rights holder) and franchises regularly. Yes, we want to hold the IPL, but not at the cost of public health and safety,” a senior BCCI official said.

However, as sporting events are increasingly getting deferred or cancelled globally, the pressure is on the BCCI also to not take any chance, another person said. “Nobody wants a major PR disaster. This is first terms of both Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah as the president and secretary of the BCCI. They are being extra careful of not sending out any wrong message.” Calls made to Ganguly did not elicit any response.

The BCCI on Friday suspended the 2020 edition of the league till April 15. Originally, the league was to be played between March 29 and May 24. Any new decisions will be made after assessing the situation, it said.

“Everyone is in the wait-and-watch mode,” said another source. “It’s a complex developing situation where a decision cannot be taken right now. One can only have a position, which can change.”

While the BCCI has discussed many options, including a smaller format or a limited number of venues, experts said they would have to be ready with multiple plans. For instance, the IPL can be played in 38 days (if two matches are played on most days), but that may impact viewership. Also, till what date it can be deferred is also a question as it would be difficult to hold matches during the monsoons, which start in June.

“In case there are 30 days or less, the IPL can be played in a 44-match or even lesser match format. There is also an option to schedule it in September and defer Asia Cup,” one official added.

However, some sports experts believe that it would be next to impossible to have the league this year in the current scenario. “There is no harm in cancelling this season of the league. One should do the right thing. The NBA has suspended the season indefinitely, MLB, NFL and so many other events are suspended. What is the worst-case scenario? The contracts can always be extended by a year,” said one of them.

Sports Viewership Sees an Upsurge

Aided by IPL and ICC World Cup, TV viewership of sports channels witnessed a 17% jump in overall viewing minutes in 2019, as per BARC India. The sports genre contributed to 3.2% of total TV viewership in the year. However, Cricket retains its numero uno position and live cricket alone cornered 58% of viewing minutes of sports broadcasts.


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