IPL season postponed as COVID-19 crisis worsens

The 2021 Indian Premier League season has been postponed with immediate effect after a number of positive COVID-19 cases were reported among teams in recent days.

The decision was taken following an emergency meeting of the governing council of the IPL and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) earlier today (Tuesday). The season got underway on April 9 in Chennai and was due to conclude at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium (pictured) on May 30.

In a statement, the IPL said the BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of players, support staff and other participants involved in organising the IPL. Matches had been taking place behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions in India, which has been badly hit by the pandemic in recent weeks with 20 million cases now confirmed in the country.

Three franchises – Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings – have confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Knight Riders’ match against Royal Challengers Bangalore was postponed yesterday as a result and all matches across the league have now been put on hold.

The IPL statement added: “These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.

“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021. The BCCI would like to thank all the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff, franchises, sponsors, partners and all the service providers who have tried their best to organise IPL 2021 even in these extremely difficult times.”

The venues for this year’s IPL were confirmed back in March, with games being played in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. This year’s tournament marks a return home for the IPL, with the 2020 edition having been held in the United Arab Emirates due to the pandemic.

In a change for the IPL, all matches are being held at neutral venues. All matches have been held without supporters and there had been plans to make a call on potential fan attendance later in the tournament, but the worsening COVID-19 situation in India has put paid to this. No date has been set for the resumption of the competition.

Image: Gujarat Cricket Association