MUMBAI: India’s sports minister yesterday said any decision to allow the Indian Premier League to go ahead this year would be taken by the government, not the Indian cricket board, and would be based on how well the country has contained the novel coronavirus.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said the IPL would go ahead only if there was no risk to public health.
“In India the government has to take a call and it will be depending on the situation of the pandemic, how we progress as a nation,” Rijiju told the India Today television channel.
“We can’t put health of the nation at risk just because we want sporting events to be held. Our focus is fighting Covid-19.”
The BCCI, the richest cricket body in the world, had said it would consider staging the lucrative IPL in October/November if the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Australia during those months, did not go ahead.
The IPL is worth almost $530million to the BCCI and attracts the best international and Indian cricketers. It was scheduled to start at the end of March but was indefinitely postponed because of the pandemic.
India has reported 131,868 infections from the new coronavirus, with 3,867 deaths.
Meanwhile, as election fever grips world cricket right in the middle of a horrible pandemic, making the political environment of the game look uglier than it already is, the International Cricket Council (ICC) and BCCI – not the best of working mates – have been involved in an unpleasant exchange of emails involving the 2021 T20 World Cup and 2023 50-over World Cup to be hosted in India.
The ICC’s general counsel and company secretary Jonathan Hall has written to his counterpart in the BCCI asking the latter to “provide evidence” of efforts that India has made “to date” to get a tax solution for the events.
The Indian cricket board has been trying to get the central government to take up the matter for quite some time now. Over the last couple of months, owing to a national lockdown and the union government busy with larger issues of extreme urgency, concerned authorities have found little time to concentrate on anything else, leave alone cricket.
The ICC, nevertheless, seem least perturbed by what the society in general is facing right now.
“In light of the BCCI’s notification of force majeure, we would highlight the obligation on the BCCI set out in clause 20.1(a) of the Host Agreement and that IBC (ICC Business Corporation) is entitled to terminate the agreement with immediate effect at any time from 18 May 2020 in accordance with clause 20.2,” Hall wrote to the BCCI on behalf of the ICC.
The IBC is the parent body’s commercial arm. What the above para really means is that BCCI notified the ICC of a ‘force majeure’ given the Covid crisis on hands, as a matter of formality, a step that they have taken with broadcasters Star India too where the IPL is concerned.
“In turn, the ICC now says that given the host agreement (for the 2021 and 2023 events), the IBC is entitled to terminate the agreement, which means what they’re saying is that they’ll take away the 2021 and 2023 events from India if BCCI and the Indian government do not respond to the matters of tax exemption through a process recommended by them (ICC) and the deadline is over.
“What the ICC is essentially doing is taking on the Indian government,” say those in the know.
The BCCI, for the record, has withheld India’s $23m for the 2016 event – a matter that has taken the legal route already.