Along with the IPL, the India-South Africa ODI series has also been deferred in the wake of Coronavirus spreading in India. India and South Africa were scheduled to play two ODIs in Lucknow (March 15) and Kolkata (March 18) respectively.
"An absolutely fair call and congratulations to the BCCI for taking the step because the heath of the public and the health of the nation is so important," Sunil Gavaskar told India Today.
"Because the coronavirus has been spreading and it was very very necessary to take the call. There are thousands of people who turn up for a match, there are so many people in the lobbies of the hotel and airports. So many people traveling on an aircraft. So yes, anybody could be infected and he could pass it on, so I think this is the most sensible decision taken by the BCCI," the India legend added.
The BCCI called off the series after initially stating that the IPL matches could be held behind closed doors. India has also banned visas till April 15. Had the tournament gone on as scheduled, the foreign stars would have been available only after April 15. Also, the tournament would have been played in front of empty stands.
The IPL Governing Council meeting in Mumbai will be held on Saturday to discuss the matter further. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said the decision was taken as a safety measure as it is paramount at this point.
“Let’s stick to the postponement (at the moment). First priority is safety, so we postponed the games,” Ganguly said after the BCCI's announcement. “We will see what happens. It is too early to answer,” Ganguly replied when asked if there will be more double headers with the revised date. On whether the franchises are happy, he stated,, “Nobody has a choice.”
The development came after Delhi government banned all sports activity which would lead to a gathering of more than 200 people. While Delhi and Karnataka refused to host IPL matches, Maharashtra banned the sale of tickets for the tournament.
“You are advised to adhere to the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event. In the event, the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of people, including spectators,” the Sports Ministry earlier said in a letter to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and as well as all the other national sports federations, including the BCCI.
India has recorded over 80 positive cases so far with the global count stands at over 1,30,000. While two people have died in India, the global death toll has gone beyond 5,000.