The Delhi government on Friday announced that the Capital will not host any Indian Premier League match this year amid the coronavirus outbreak. Addressing a press conference, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday said all big events, conferences and sports gatherings have been banned in the city-state till further notice. The ban is specific to events that will have gatherings of 200 people or more, reported NDTV.
There have been six confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Delhi so far.
Sisodia also urged citizens to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He cited the example of South Korea where 30 people were quarantined but social gatherings continued. “The 31st person later spread the virus to 10,000 people,” claimed Sisodia. “In Delhi, we are trying all means to prevent this. At this time, the biggest solution is social distancing.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is reportedly open to looking at alternate options.
“Lucknow has been wanting to host IPL matches for a while now. If it’s a closed door tournament, it really doesn’t matter where it is played,” a BCCI source is quoted as saying by PTI.
The ban in Delhi comes a day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government ordered the closure of all schools, colleges and cinema theatres in the city till March 31. The government had shut the primary schools earlier this month. The administration also made it mandatory for all offices, shopping malls and other public spaces to be disinfected on a daily basis.
There have been question marks over the IPL with reports suggesting that the tournament could be played behind closed doors. Organisers are set to meet on Saturday to decide whether the Twenty20 tournament will start as scheduled on March 29, with doubts over the availability of overseas stars in light of the travel advisories in place by the Indian government.
The Maharashtra state government has already ordered Mumbai Indians, the reigning champions, to delay ticket sales for the opening game against arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings.
Maharashtra has called on the central government to order all games played without spectators – as some European football leagues are now doing.
The Ministry of External Affairs, however, had said on Thursday that the final call will have to be taken by the IPL Governing Council despite suggesting not to go ahead with the tournament.
India reported its first coronavirus death late on Thursday after samples of a 76-year-old man, who was a suspected COVID-19 patient and died on March 10, tested positive for the disease. There are 75 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India.
Coronavirus has spread to 100 countries, infecting 1.27 lakh people and killing 4,717. The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the outbreak a pandemic. China had on Thursday declared that the peak of the coronavirus outbreak had passed in the country after new cases in Hubei fell to single digits for the first time. But in recent weeks the vast majority of new cases have been reported from outside China.