How 10 Minutes Decided The Fate of One Of The Biggest Sporting Events In India
After two thrilling matches on Sunday, 2nd of May 2021, people woke up on their Monday mornings to dismal news - the expected spectacle between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore was going to be postponed.
The announcement was met with an outburst from fans on social media and then began the speculations behind the reason and causes for this sudden postponement. This was also one of the first signs of the ‘bio-bubble’ showing signs of rupture - to clarify, a bio bubble is as an arrangement that was created during COVID-19 to allow sporting events that follow strict safety rules created by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the IPL.
There were conflicting reports, with journalists publishing breaking news that led to mass panic, and shortly after, a press release from the BCCI confirmed speculations that two KKR players, Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier had tested positive for COVID-19. These reports raised questions about the bio-bubble, its previously stated effectiveness and more importantly, what would be the future of this year's IPL?
Further opening the floodgates, rumours further started to spread about the entire personnel involved in the event testing positive, not just the players - a report from ESPN Cricinfo revealed that there were three non-player members which included a bus cleaner, the CEO of Chennai Super Kings, Kasi Vishwanathan and even L Balaji, the bowling coach who had all tested positive.
This led to the eventual suspension of the IPL that was announced by BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla. The decision was taken and implemented in 10 minutes as BCCI secretary Jay Shah briefed the IPL council that they would not be able to continue the tournament, adding “the safety of the players is the top priority of the board and one cannot compromise on that”. Even though it is reported that one member did want the league to continue, when votes favoured the disagreeing parties, the league was suspended.
The biggest question on people's minds seems to be 'now what'? Only 29 out of the 60 matches had taken place up until the untimely suspension, and it is reported (although not yet confirmed) that the rest of the 31 games will now be conducted after the T20 world cup.
Rajeev Shukla, Vice-President - BCCI
We saw a number of players decide to leave midway through the league when the surge in Covid cases began once again, but the majority of the players stayed back to play the matches and fulfill their commitments. This in led to worry about overseas players and how they would return home. However, the BCCI assured that they would make the necessary arrangements for the players to return home although this seems to become increasingly difficult due to the travel bans from multiple countries.
An example of this is the Australian ban announced till the 15th of May, which forced Australian Commentator Michael Slater to go to the Maldives to wait the period out. This in turn caused the Australian PM to receive major backlash from fans and families of the player's and some strong words from Slater himself accusing the Australian government of negligence towards their citizens.
So what are the repercussions of this postponement?
The major one that’s looming over the heads of the BCCI is the T20 World cup that’s supposed to start in the latter half of 2021, with reports claiming that if the situation improves then it will be held in October. It’s also being said that even though the tournament is set to take place in India, the UAE has been informed to be on standby in case the venue needs to be switched. The biggest hurdle, however, will be ensuring the safety of the players and staff working on the World Cup all while convincing the different boards to send their players and staff - which won’t be the most easy feat given the recent debacle with the IPL and evident loopholes in the bio-bubbles.