Will rise in Covid cases in Maharashtra push IPL 2021 back to UAE?

With March nearing, BCCI does not have much time to take a final call on the venue as the broadcaster will need at least a month to make preparations for the execution and sell inventory

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Published: Feb 23, 2021 8:52 AM  | 3 min read

Until January 30, BCCI was loud and clear about its plans to host IPL 2021 in India. It was believed that top officials of the cricketing board had recced six stadia across Maharashtra and perhaps a few in Gujarat to hold the upcoming season likely in April.

However, with corona cases soaring again in Maharashtra and fresh restrictions being announced, it is believed that the officials are under pressure to reconsider shifting the cricketing extravaganza to UAE.

“With second wave likely, there is a strong contemplation of moving the event back to UAE as it is tried and tested,” said a top industry official who did not wish to be named.

Sources also added that with March nearing, BCCI does not have much time to take a final call on the venue.

“The broadcaster will need at least a month’s time to make preparations for its execution and also sell inventory. Hence a decision on the same must be taken soon,” said a reliable source.

Meanwhile, another senior industry member claimed that India has so far been able to manage the ongoing India-England series, that started early February, quite well and is hoping that it will be able to pull off IPL too.

Going by media reports, BCCI had in January said that it doesn't feel the need to look at a back-up overseas venue for hosting the 2021 edition of the IPL. The statement had come from treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal on January 30. Dhumal, who is also on the IPL Governing Council, had told a news agency that the board is confident that it would be able to host the league at home, unlike the previous edition that was held in the UAE due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We are working on having the IPL in India and we are hopeful that we would be able to organise it. We are not even thinking of a back-up at this point in time, we want to do it here. India is probably safer than UAE at this point. Hopefully, the situation remains stable and keep improving and we will have it here," Dhumal had said.
However both BCCI and official broadcaster Star are so far tight-lipped about any discussions on the venue. “It will not be fair to make any comment at this stage when the body is itself contemplating and has not taken any final call. The announcement will be made once a decision is taken,” said a senior BCCI official when contacted for comments.

As per a latest government announcement, due to the spike in the number of Covid cases, Amravati district in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region will be placed under a week-long lockdown from 8 pm on February 22. The lockdown will be in force till 8 am on March 1, said state minister Yashomati Thakur on Sunday.

Apart from the week-long lockdown in Amravati, restrictions will be in place in four other districts of Amravati division — Akola, Washim, Buldhana and Yavatmal — with a view to curb the spread of the virus, an official said.

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