Coronavirus Impact: Foreign players not available for IPL till April 15

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No foreign player will be available for this year’s Indian Premier League till April 15 due to visa restrictions imposed by the government to contain the novel coronavirus threat, a top BCCI source told PTI on Thursday, casting fresh doubts on the fate of the event.

“The foreign players who play in the IPL come under the Business Visa category. As per the government’s directive, they can’t come till April 15,” a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

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The Government has issued fresh advisory with a ban on all existing foreign visas, except a few categories like diplomatic and employment, till April 15 in the wake of new positive cases of novel coronavirus in the country.

India has reported 60 positive cases in the outbreak which has led to over 4,000 deaths globally. The fate of the IPL itself will be decided on March 14 at the event’s Governing Council meeting in Mumbai.

“All decisions will be taken by the GC in Mumbai,” the source said.

Having the IPL, starting March 29, played in empty stadiums is an option being explored, but that might not just be acceptable to the stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the BCCI will wait for the next couple of days to decide its next course of action after the government issued fresh advisory with a ban on all existing foreign visas, except a few categories like diplomatic and employment, till April 15 in the wake of new positive cases of novel coronavirus in the country.

“Please give us two days. It’s not possible to give you concrete details at the moment,” a senior Board office bearer said.

India has reported 60 positive cases in the outbreak which has led to over 4,000 deaths globally.

Having the IPL, starting March 29, played in empty stadiums is an option but a decision will only be taken at the league’s Governing Council meeting in Mumbai on March 14.

The BCCI seems jittery about the 60-odd foreign cricketers, who travel to India for the IPL.

The Board said it is not yet clear on whether visas to these players also stand cancelled. “All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure,” the statement from the government said.

The pressure has increased manifold after the Legends T20 meet games in Pune, featuring the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara were cancelled.

A PIL against the IPL is set to be heard in Madras High Court on Thursday. And amid a possibility that the Maharashtra government might bar IPL games in the state, the only feasible solution is having matches inside empty stadiums.

This will save the broadcasters from losing advertisement money as matches are insured which means both the BCCI and franchisees will recover bulk of their investment.

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