NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League, the world’s richest Twenty20 cricket tournament, was suspended on Tuesday and its players sent home as India battles a massive surge in coronavirus cases.
The move, which follows growing controversy over the competition, comes a day after two players — Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier — tested positive, forcing a match to be postponed.
The Chennai Super Kings added in a statement on Tuesday that its bowling coach L Balaji and a member of the side’s travel support staff tested positive after undergoing tests in India’s capital New Delhi on Sunday.
“The Indian Premier League Governing Council and Board of Control for Cricket in India in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone (the) IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect,” a statement from organisers said.
“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL,” it added.
India, which has reported more than 20 million infections so far, with just over 222,000 deaths, is also due to host the Twenty20 World Cup in October and November.
The high-paying IPL, which was taking place in biosecure “bubble” conditions, attracts many of the world’s top cricketers, including players from Australia, England and South Africa.
BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla said the governing body would “make the arrangements” for the IPL’s international players to leave India.
“About the foreign players, as we have said, we will try and ensure all of them get to their homes,” he said.
Cricket Australia said in a statement that it was in touch with the BCCI to “ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home”.
The governing body added that it was not seeking exemptions from the Australian government’s move to ban travellers from India from entering the country until at least May 15.
Cricket South Africa said it was in touch with franchises for the “expedited travel of all South African players and support staff” back home, where they will undergo home quarantine. — AFP