The Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament continues to play despite a catastrophic Covid-19 second wave that is killing thousands of people every day in India. The lucrative IPL, which runs until May 30th, is a two-month cricket festival that attracts big contracts for the best players in the world. International competition all but stops during the glitzy event which is currently being held behind closed doors as India scrambles to deal with the surge in cases.
KKR captain @Eoin16 is pained to see the surge of COVID-19 cases in India but indicated the ongoing IPL could still go on as Bundesliga and Premier League have set the perfect “templates” for sports to continue amid lockdown.https://t.co/upxI4rE9bC
— Express Sports (@IExpressSports) April 27, 2021
The IPL is the sixth most valuable sports league in the world, behind the NFL, the Champions League and European football’s four biggest domestic leagues. Pat Cummins, the most expensive international buy in the IPL’s 2020 auction, released a statement on Monday that mirrored the debate about whether it’s right to keep playing.
Cummins wrote on Twitter
“I’m told the Indian government believes that playing the IPL while the population is on lockdown provides a few hours of joy and respite each day at an otherwise difficult time for the nation,” Cummins wrote on Twitter.
On Sunday, IPL organizers told Reuters that they are still optimistic that the biosecure bubbles around the teams will keep the players healthy while competing. “The IPL offers a much-needed diversion for everyone from the doom and gloom around us,” a Reuters source said. “Yes, cases have increased in places like Delhi, but we have two backup locations in Hyderabad and Indore that we can use if necessary.”
When CNN contacted India’s Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI), neither the BCCI nor the IPL was available for comment.
Status quo in India
India is officially in a state of emergency. Its health-care system is in shambles. In Delhi, hospitals are running out of oxygen and ICU beds, forcing patients to wait outside for treatment. For the fifth day in a row, the country recorded 352,991 new cases and 2,812 virus-related deaths, making it the world’s highest daily caseload. Experts believe the true toll is higher than the official estimates.
Oswald Dsouza, a 55-year-old Bangalore cricket fan, stated that “On the one hand, people are losing their lives, and on the other hand, we’re talking about sports and commercial cricket.” Yes, I enjoy the IPL, but at the end of the day, lives matter. What’s the point of continuing the IPL when so many people have died?”
He continued, “Why should you take a chance? Why put the lives of cricket players in jeopardy? I’m sure the money and big bucks are there in the IPL, but lives are far more valuable. They could give up a season.”
Several international and domestic players have already left this season, with Australian trio Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, and Andrew Tye among the first to return home for personal reasons.
Indian Premier League to be boycotted
The central government of India has received widespread criticism for its handling of the outbreak.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi only spoke to the nation about the crisis last week, after holding political rallies and mostly downplaying the urgency of the second wave in the weeks prior. Since then, he has stated that his administration will construct 551 oxygen-generating plants.
The latest broadcast contract for the Indian Premier League is worth $2.5 billion. The league employs thousands of people, and with a population of 1.2 billion people, cricket is a major moneymaker in India.
The New Indian Express, a Chennai-based newspaper, has decided to suspend its IPL coverage indefinitely until a “semblance of normalcy” is restored. “We find it incongruous that the festival of the cricket is on in India, with layers of bio bubbles creating security,” the paper’s editor wrote in a letter.
In the current edition of the IPL, twenty matches have been played, with all of them taking place in Chennai and Mumbai. This week, the tournament will begin with 16 games in the nation’s capital Delhi and Ahmedabad. In October of this year, India will host the T20 World Cup.