IPL suspended indefinitely as Covid infects players, staff

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The Indian Premier League was on Tuesday suspended indefinitely after multiple Covid cases were reported in its bio-bubble, ending a month-long relatively smooth run for cricket’s most glamorous and cash-rich event in the middle of a raging pandemic.

“The tournament has been suspended indefinitely. We will try to conduct the event in the next available window but this month is unlikely,” league chairman Brijesh Patel told PTI.

The announcement came after Sunrisers Hyderabad’s wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha tested positive for Covid along with Delhi Capitals’ spinner Amit Mishra.

On Monday, Chennai Super Kings bowling coach L Balaji, along with Kolkata Knight Riders bowlers Sandeep Warrier and Varun Chakravarthy, had also returned positive results.

The spread of infection had led to postponement of two IPL games earlier.

The league organisers also issued a formal statement saying safety of its players and staff is paramount.

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind,” it 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 IPL stated.

The tournament began on April 9 and ran smoothly before KKR’s Covid cases caused the initial jitters on Monday. The tournament final was planned for May 30.

Just days before this, three Australian players had pulled out of the league, citing Covid concerns amid a devastating second wave of the global pandemic that has overwhelmed the medical infrastructure of the country.

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The 2020 IPL had also been held in a bio-secure bubble in the UAE and at that time, infections were reported only before the start of the tournament.

India is currently recording over 3 lakh cases every day and more than 3,000 daily deaths.