Indian Premier League: Start date postponed over coronavirus fears

IPL now due to start on April 15 after Indian cricket board steps n

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 20, 2019, Delhi Capitals bowler Sandeep Lamichhane (L) of Nepal celebrates after he dismissed Kings XI Punjab cricketer Chris Gayle during the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab at the Feroz Shah Kotla cricket stadium in New Delhi.  The United States were bowled out for 35 by Nepal on February 12 and joined Zimbabwe in making the lowest total in a 50 over international. Nepal leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane was wrecker-in-chief, taking six for 16 as the American side were finished off in 12 overs in the World Cup league two match in Kathmandu. - ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-----
 / AFP / Sajjad HUSSAIN / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-----

The start of the Indian Premier League has been postponed until April 15 as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.

The Indian cricket board announced the delay from the original opening date of March 29.

The Indian government said it would cancel almost all visas issued for travel to India until April 15 to try to prevent the spread of the virus, and the country's sports secretary said on Thursday the national cricket team's coming matches should be played in empty stadiums.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) situation," the board said in a statement.

"The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that, all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience."

India's national cricket team is locked in a three-match one-day international series against South Africa, the first of which was washed out due to rain in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala on Thursday.

The BCCI said the remaining two matches - at Lucknow and Kolkata - would be played in empty stadiums.

The 13th season of the eight-team IPL had been scheduled to start with a match between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.

The cash-rich IPL draws the world's top cricketers. As per the previous schedule, the franchise-based competition was set to run for seven weeks with the final on May 17.

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