Fans to return to IPL venues

The conclusion of the 2021 Indian Premier League season in the United Arab Emirates will go ahead with fans, it was announced today (Wednesday).

The season will resume on Sunday when the Mumbai Indians take on the Chennai Super Kings at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Organisers did not confirm how many fans will be in attendance, but the Times of India newspaper reported that stadiums are set to open at 50% capacity. It will mark the first time that fans have attended IPL matches since 2019.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed earlier this year that the remainder of the IPL season would take place in the UAE. The announcement came after the tournament, which had been taking place in India, was postponed in early May after a number of players tested positive for COVID-19 with 31 matches still needing to be played.

The decision to move the tournament to the UAE was taken due to the monsoon season in India in September and October. Matches will be held in Dubai, Sharjah (pictured) and Abu Dhabi, with limited seating to be made available in line with COVID-19 protocols and UAE government regulations. The BCCI announced in July that Dubai would host the final on October 15.

The IPL finale will be followed by the T20 World Cup. In June, the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed that this year’s T20 World Cup would be moved to the UAE and Oman amid the ongoing effects of the pandemic in India, which had originally been due to host the tournament.

The BCCI will remain the host of the event, which will now be held at the Dubai International Stadium, the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Sharjah Stadium and the Oman Cricket Academy Ground. The tournament will be held from October 17 to November 14 as originally planned.

The BCCI was also forced to stage the 2020 IPL season in the UAE due to the pandemic, with the entire tournament being played behind closed doors. The start of the 2021 campaign in India was also played without fans.

Image: Sanober Ahmed/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size