The lucrative IPL, which runs until May 30, is a two-month cricket festival, attracting huge contracts for the world’s best players.
International competition practically comes to a halt during the glitzy event currently taking place behind closed doors as India scrambles to cope with the surge in cases.
According to Forbes, the IPL is the sixth most valuable sports league in the world, behind the NFL, the Champions League and the four biggest national leagues in European football.
Pat Cummins, who was the most expensive foreign buy in IPL’s 2020 auction, released a statement on Monday reflecting the debate on whether to continue.
IPL organizers on Sunday told Reuters they remain confident that biosecurity bubbles around teams allow players to compete in safety.
“Yes, the cases have increased in places like Delhi, but we have two sites on hold in Hyderabad and Indore and we would use them if necessary.”
Neither the Indian Cricket Control Council (BCCI) nor the IPL were available for comment when contacted by CNN.
A country on its knees
India is currently a nation in crisis. His health care system has been crippled. Delhi hospitals are running out of oxygen and intensive care beds, leaving patients waiting outside for treatment.
The country reported 352,991 new cases and 2,812 deaths linked to the virus on Monday, marking the world’s highest daily workload for the fifth day in a row. Experts say the real toll exceeds official figures.
And critics are now questioning the advisability of holding the IPL tournament in a country currently on its knees.
“It doesn’t make me feel good. I’ve seen a lot of lives lost,” Oswald Dsouza, 55, cricketer from Bangalore, told CNN Sport.
“On the one hand you have people losing their precious lives and on the other you talk about entertainment and commercial cricket.
“Yes, I love IPL too, but life matters in the end. What’s the point of continuing with IPL when we have so many lives lost.”
He added: “Why take the risk? Why risk the lives of cricketers? I’m sure the money is there and the big bucks are there in the IPL, but life is very important. They could sacrifice a season.”
Delhi Capitals star Ravi Ashwin has also withdrawn from the league, writing on Twitter that he is taking a hiatus to support his family.
“I hope to come back and play if things go the right way.”
Meanwhile, Cummins called on IPL players to help fund medical supplies, including oxygen supplies, to those who need them most.
“I encourage my fellow IPL players – and anyone else in the world who has been touched by India’s passion and generosity – to contribute. I’ll start with $ 50,000, ”Cummins wrote on Twitter.
Newspapers boycott IPL
Prime Minister Narendra Modi only addressed the nation on the crisis for the first time last week, after staging political rallies and largely downplaying the urgency of the second wave in previous weeks. He has since said his administration will set up 551 oxygen production plants.
Canceling the season because of the pandemic would certainly have financial repercussions for India.
However, the New Indian Express, a Chennai-based newspaper, decided to stop its IPL coverage with immediate effect until a “semblance of normalcy is restored”.
“It’s commercialism turned crass. The problem is not with the game but its timing. Cricket must also accept that we are going through an unprecedented crisis.”
Supporters of the IPL game may well indicate that European football’s ability to continue amid the pandemic is a reason to continue with the country’s favorite sport.
But with several Delhi hospitals tweeting SOS messages on Monday saying they were running out of oxygen and crematoria became an assembly line of death and misery, the looming of a lucrative cricket tournament being played n probably doesn’t look great.
Twenty matches have been played in the current edition of the IPL, with all matches so far taking place in Chennai and Mumbai.
The tournament continues this week with 16 matches being played in the country’s capital Delhi and Ahmedabad.
India is also set to host the T20 World Cup in October this year.
CNN’s Aleks Klosok and Jessie Yeung contributed reporting.
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