The Indian Premier League may have been hit by the COVID-19 storm. Two players have contracted the Coronavirus, and at least four teams may have been exposed to the virus. This is not surprising given the widespread presence throughout the country.
Here’s the meltdown: Players from the Kolkata Knight Riders have tested positive for the virus, and reports say three members of the Chennai Super Kings have also been affected. Worse still, the Delhi Cricket Board has confirmed that five Kotla employees may be in contact with the Rajasthan Royals and the Hyderabad Sunners players. Therefore, four of the eight teams were affected.
Where does that leave the IPL? Will you pause to remove all lingering doubts about casual and direct connections? Or should the fourteenth season be canceled?
It should have been abolished when the COVID-19 situation in India spiraled out of control. How can cricketers safely continue playing Bubble Bubbles while a large part of the country suffers? Hundreds of thousands are gasping for breath, many struggle to get hospital beds, and the unfortunate people do not even have a place to bury the dead. If it doesn’t shock you, nothing shockes you. Doing sports in a time of national crisis is a bigger tragedy. It just shows that we have lost our compassion and our humanity.
Consider this: When a flood or fire destroys a village or town, is it appropriate to hold a concert there? Or will you throw a party at home when your neighbor is mourning the death of a loved one? There is no argument here.
So, is it okay to hold a major sporting event when India experiences the biggest health crisis in history? The IPL and its stakeholders argue that games provide distraction and relief when the country and its people are battling a pandemic. Some say that IPL provides many people with jobs when livelihoods are lost. That may be true, but just as Australian cricketer Adam Zamba said: Who will watch the matches when a loved one fights for survival. Millions of families across India are battling COVID-19, and they don’t have time for IPL. Not even Ravichandran Ashwin of India or umpire Nethin Menon.
A gap in the vital bubble
The Indian Premier League crossed the halfway mark, with some teams playing eight out of 14 matches. So the issue of suitability is no longer applicable. The question now is: Will they stop to take care of the players?
Recent statements from the Indian Cricket Board also confirm the belief that the tournament will continue. Also, downtime may not be an option for stakeholders, especially since millions have been spent on it. But since four teams were affected, it makes no sense to take a break and assess the situation before continuing.
The break may not be possible given that all foreign players have to return home: some have connections back home. The International Cricket Board may not agree to an extension of the IPL window. More than that because there is a T20 World Cup scheduled for later this year.
If pausing is not possible, canceling Season 14 would be the wise thing to do. Otherwise, we will have more reports of more players who have contracted the virus. Should we get there?
Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrior infections tell us that bio-bubbles are not as safe as we think. There is a loophole. Biobubbles are also risky, especially when players are traveling. Anytime a player leaves the bubble, the threat is greater, as in the case of Chakravarthy.
This is a wake-up call for the Indian Cricket Board. Cricket Board of India must wake up to the fact that there are more things than sport. Matters of life and death.