In what could be a huge blow to organising the 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), a second meeting of the Group of Ministers on Wednesday cancelled all visas, except for a few official categories, till April 15 in the wake of the growing coronavirus scare.
In the meeting held at Nirman Bhavan here, it was decided that all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till April 15 as the coronavirus outbreak has already seen over 60 positive cases in India.
The coronavirus outbreak was on Wednesday declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), whose chief expressed his “deep concern” over the “alarming levels of inaction” in combating the virus spread.
But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is still keeping their fingers crossed and have said that they will keep working closely with the concerned departments to ensure that all possible precautions are taken.
“The present scenario is a huge challenge for the BCCI-IPL and it is one where the circumstances are changing every few hours, and the BCCI has no control over these circumstances. As is usually the case in such situations, the BCCI would be in regular touch with the concerned departments to take the best possible course of action in the interest of the game, the players, the fans and the league,” a BCCI official told IANS.
The advisory from the Government of India does speak of exception for official visas and IPL franchises believe that could help as the ban would be for tourists looking to visit the country.
“See, there is an exception being made for those coming to India for official reasons. So we are still hoping that there shouldn’t be a problem in having our foreign recruits over for the tournament. Rest obviously depends on what the government feels is best, as public health is of utmost importance,” the official of an IPL franchise told IANS.
In fact, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had recently made it clear that there was no reason to worry about the fate of the tournament as the board was taking all necessary precautions.
Ministers in Maharashtra and Karnataka have already written to the Centre to put the cash-rich league on hold and the new advisory from the government could see a new twist as far as the fate of the IPL is concerned.