NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Indian Premier League (IPL) could be played behind closed doors as last resort, if that is the only way to save this year’s Twenty20 tournament from falling victim to the coronavirus epidemic, a senior cricket board official said.
The tournament had been scheduled to begin in late March but was indefinitely postponed following the outbreak.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) stands to lose $525 million in revenue if it cannot stage the 2020 edition of the franchise-based league and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly assured members this week that they were exploring “all possible options”.
“If it can be with spectators, we’d ideally want that,” BCCI treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal told Reuters by telephone.
“But if we have to stage it in empty stadiums and there’s no other choice, we might go for that. We’ll try and work out depending on the situation at that point in time.
“But before anything else, we have to have a window available and a clear-cut directive from the government (to go ahead).”
India on Friday reported a total of 297,535 coronavirus infections, surpassing the United Kingdom to become the fourth worst affected country in the world. [nFWN2DO0R3]
The pandemic also jeopardises this year’s Twenty20 World Cup with hosts Cricket Australia conceding the tournament’s October-November schedule was under “very high risk”.
The BCCI has said it would consider slotting IPL in that window should the World Cup be postponed, but the International Cricket Council would not take a call on the fate of the flagship tournament until next month. [nL4N2DN3I2]
“Whatever decision has to happen should happen well in time,” Dhumal said.
“If that tournament is not happening, other boards can decide whether they want to have some bilateral tournament or something else to make up for the loss they have incurred because of the pandemic.”
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore