Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sourav Ganguly defended the attempt to hold the Indian Premier League during the record surge of Covid-19 cases in the country, insisting it was not a mistake.
The BCCI suspended the IPL on Tuesday after several members across four franchises tested positive for Covid-19 inside the bio-bubble. More than 10 players and back-up staff have tested positive since the eight teams started gathering for the tournament in bio-bubbles.
Asked whether it was a mistake to hold the IPL in India, Ganguly said: “When we decided, the number was not even close to this. We did the England tour successfully.”
The BCCI considered holding the IPL in the United Arab Emirates, as it did last year, but stuck with India because the cases were “nothing”, Ganguly said.
“It has just gone through the roof in the last three weeks. We discussed about the UAE but then decided to do it in India,” he was quoted as saying.
India is reporting nearly 4,000 deaths and more than 400,000 new cases a day.
Ganguly said it was very difficult to say how the coronavirus entered the team bubble. He added that “professional hands” had been managing the bio-bubble, but no sport could be pandemic-proof.
Press reports said Bangalore’s Varun Chakravarthy may have been infected while undergoing tests in a hospital.
UK-based Restrata managed the bio-bubble during the 2020 edition of the IPL in the UAE but Ganguly revealed that the company’s lack of presence in India made it hard for the board to appoint them again.
Ganguly also highlighted how there had been cases in the English Premier League football when Britain was suffering a major surge late last year.
“Manchester City, Arsenal players got infected. Matches got rescheduled. Because their season is six months long they can do it,” he said. “But our season is tight. Since we have to (release) players to their respective countries, rescheduling was difficult.”
Nearly all the foreign stars have since left. Australian players, umpires and coaches were expected to arrive in the Maldives on Thursday to wait until they can return home without breaking a contentious ban on people who have been in India.
Ganguly also added that the Indian cricketers can vaccinate themselves individually in their respective states as the Indian government has opened up vaccination for the age group of 18-45.
India’s caseload has gone from 13 million to 21 million since the tournament started on April 9, with record numbers of cases and deaths now being reported each day.
(With AFP inputs)
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