Opinion

#VIVOIPL2021 :No Crowds After First Two T20s Against England Hinted COVID, Yet BCCI Chose To Ignore Warnings

Now that the BCCI has postponed the IPL 2021 going by their statement which read : The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season with immediate effect, It now becomes pertinent ask whether BCCI at first place ignore the COVID threat?

The BCCI went all out to promote the largest stadium in the world – Motera , Narendra Modi stadium during series against England . It picked the venue to host T20 Internationals between England and India and even allowed crowds at the venue too. Many visuals did emerge that the eager crowds had ignored the covid SOP and did not follow the social distancing and wearing masks norm.

Then all of a sudden after two T20 matches the BCCI realises the covid scare and the rise in cases . Hence orders no crowds at venues in the remaining T20’s and the three ODI’s to follow at Pune. The dates of The T20 series against England were : March 12, 14  16, 18, 20. While the three match ODI’s at Pune were : 23rd, 26th, 28th March. The IPL 2021 was scheduled to begin on April 9 .  The ban on crowds during the England series meant the covid hint yet the BCCI chose to ignore the warnings and went ahead with  IPL 2021.

Then BBCI claim claim of safe bio- bubble stood exposed as  Australian players  like Adam Zampa , Andrew Tye , Kane Richardson leaving the IPL mid- way . The BCCI and IPL mandarins made light of their  leaving and yet insisted that the tournament would go on .  And the nail in the coffin was final when likes of Amit Mishra and Wriddhiman Saha tested positive leading to the eventual suspension of the event. Clearly BCCI and the IPL hierarchy misread the situation.

The halt of the IPL 2021 is expected to hit the BCCI hard . According to various media reports, The BCCI stands to lose over Rs 2000 crore of the broadcast and sponsorship money earmarked for this year’s Indian Premier League which was indefinitely postponed due to Covid-19 cases in its bio-bubble. The biggest loss for BCCI is the money it gets from Star Sports for the broadcast rights of the tournament. Star has a five-year contract worth Rs 16,347 crore which is Rs 3269.4 crore per year. If there are 60 games in a season, the per match valuation comes to approximately Rs 54.5 crore.

If Star pays per match, then the amount for 29 matches would be Rs 1580 crore approximately out of what would have been Rs 3270 crore for a full tournament. This means a loss of Rs 1690 crore for the Board. Similarly, mobile manufacturers VIVO, as tournament’s title sponsors, pay Rs 440 crore per season and BCCI is likely to get less than half of that amount because of the postponement.

BCCI could well rue the loss due to postponement, but with the country ravaged by second covid wave and disturbing visuals of people desperately searching for oxygen, hospitals beds and long lines at the crematoriums are very hard to ignore . Humanity is at stake. Lives do matter not maximum sixes.  IPL 2021 was simply hosted in the wrong time . Hopefully,  the BCCI and the IPL will learn some lessons from this episode.

Ace commentator Harsha Bhogle summed up the events in a tweet as he wrote , I guess it became inevitable in the last couple of days…..Look forward to calling the action in happier times. The #IPL is a great event and I hope it returns stronger when the world is what we knew it to be.

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