COVID-19: IPL suspends season as BHA details resumption plans

Indian Premier League

The Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition has suspended its 2020 season until further notice amid lockdown measures implemented by the national government.

The IPL will now only commence when it is “safe and appropriate to do so”. The Board of Control for Cricket in India will continue to monitor and review the situation regarding a potential start date in partnership with its stakeholders.

The IPL had originally been due to take place from March 29 to May 24. With the Indian government having issued a nationwide lockdown until May 3, the competition will be unable to start for at least a few more weeks.

After the March 29 start date became impossible, it had been hoped that the competition would begin on April 15 (yesterday) but this suspension has now been extended indefinitely.

Horse Racing

British Horse Racing has extended the suspension of racing and is anticipating that fans will not be allowed back at racecourses until June at the earliest.

The suspension of racing began on March 18 and had been due to finish at the end of April but the return date has now been pushed back further with the British government today (Thursday) expected to extend lockdown restrictions.

The BHA said that it had not set a new date for ending the suspension but plans are in place to ensure the sport is ready to resume as soon as is possible and appropriate in consultation with the government. The BHA has been working with trainers, racecourses and other participants to develop a phased plan for the resumption of the racing season.

The BHA said its plans allow for a resumption in May if possible, with the governing body assuming that this would be behind closed doors only. Citing the “very strong likelihood” that restrictions on mass gatherings will continue, the BHA accepts that racing with crowds will not be possible until June at the earliest.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said: “We stopped racing in March to protect the health and safety of the public and to limit demands on the NHS. It’s right to continue this suspension until the pressure on the NHS allows for a resumption and we can assure the safety of those taking part.

“We are in touch with government as part of our development of a responsible, coordinated plan for the return of sport when it’s appropriate to do so. We’ll continue to develop a range of options drawing on the expertise of our participants and racecourses. But for now, we are all focused on supporting the national effort, maintaining social distancing restrictions and taking care of our people and our horses.”

Qatar 2022

In Qatar, five individuals working on stadia for the country’s FIFA World Cup in 2022 have tested positive for COVID-19.

Seven deaths have been reported from the virus in Qatar and these are the first confirmed cases among workers on stadium projects.

World Cup organisers said in a statement to the AFP news agency: “The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) has confirmed that two staff members who work for an SC Contractor on the Al-Thumama Stadium project have tested positive for COVID-19.

“In addition, three workers, one working on the Al-Rayyan Stadium project and two on the Al-Bayt Stadium project have tested positive.”

The statement added that those affected would continue to be paid and receive free healthcare. Workers who came into contact with colleagues who have contracted COVID-19 will also begin 14-day isolations as a precautionary measure.

Qatar 2022 is planning on inaugurating three more venues – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan and Al Bayt – this year, with two venues already fully operational – Khalifa International and Al Janoub Stadium.

FNB Stadium

Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA), which operates Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium, is struggling financially due to the COVID-19 crisis, with the TimesLIVE newspaper reporting that the venue risks losing “tens of millions of Rands” in the absence of live events.

The stadium, which is also known as Soccer City, hosted the FIFA World Cup final in 2010 and now primarily serves as the home of Premier Soccer League club team Kaizer Chiefs.

The Premier Soccer League season has been suspended since March 16. FNB Stadium was also due to host two Easter gatherings last weekend but with all major events having been cancelled until mid-July, SMSA has been hit hard by the crisis.

SMSA managing director Bertie Grobbelaar told TimesLIVE: “I can’t tell you at the moment what the losses will be.

“But that we are losing money – yes‚ we are at a rate of knots. The difference to the other stadia is that they get supported by the municipalities. Our agreement with the city is that we manage the stadium and are responsible for the upkeep. We are responsible for the stadium to balance the books.”

Grobbelaar added: “There are some big-ticket items – like if the roof goes – that the city would pay for. It’s the only stadium management company on that deal‚ and everything’s ground to a halt now.

“So what we’re currently busy with is planning on assumptions. All the event categorisations have been withdrawn‚ and that is most probably until July 15 that they will only consider events dependent on government regulations.

“Once you get the event categorised you still need some months to plan. For example‚ a big concert event‚ you can’t plan that in a month. So at this point we are unsure if any of our events for this year will continue.”

Grobbelaar is hopeful that some events will be able to be rescheduled for later in 2020.

Image: Indian Premier League