IPL 2021 organisers vow to return all participants home safely after tournament suspension

Competition postponed indefinitely on Tuesday after number of postive Covid-19 test results reported by teams

The governing body of the Indian Premier League has vowed to do “everything in its powers” to return all of its participants home safely in the wake of the tournament's suspension.

The competition was postponed indefinitely on Tuesday morning after a number of positive Covid results were reported within teams.

The event had attracted mounting criticism in recent times for continuing despite the surge in coronavirus cases across India.

Monday's game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders was called off following the positive cases of Kolkata bowlers Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier.

The following morning it was announced Chennai Super Kings players and staff had entered a week-long isolation period in response to two positive cases within their camp.

Shortly after, it was confirmed Sunrisers Hyderabad player Wriddhiman Saha had returned a positive test ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled game against Mumbai Indians.

Initially it was reported the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were planning to move the remaining 31 IPL matches to Mumbai in an attempt to save the season.

Now, though, the decision has been taken to suspend the season altogether.

India's tally of coronavirus infections passed 20 million on Tuesday, following 357,229 new cases over the last 24 hours, as the country battles a devastating second wave.

The health crisis had led to a growing anxiety among players and officials, many of whom have since begun their journeys home.

The logistics of that are highly complex for many, given the travel restrictions imposed on India as countries attempt to combat the spread of the virus.

UAE is a frequent transit point for travellers from India to the rest of the world, but the air corridor between the countries is now shut.

The 40 or so Australians who were still involved in the tournament when the suspension was announced are now set to travel to the Maldives.

There is currently a travel ban in place for any travellers – including citizens – to Australia from India.

Cricket Australia and the country’s players union made a joint statement to announce they were working on the safe return of its contingent in India.

“CA is in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home to Australia,” the statement read.

“CA and the ACA respect the decision of the Australian government to pause travel from India until at least May 15 and will not seek exemptions.

“CA and the ACA thank the BCCI for their efforts and cooperation for the safe repatriation of all participants at the IPL.”

The IPL’s organisers also voiced their intention to assist with the repatriation effort.

“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021,” they said.

“The BCCI would like to thank all the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff, franchises, sponsors, partners and all the service providers who have tried their best to organise IPL 2021 even in these extremely difficult times.”

The postponement has come a little over a week since the organisers assured the players of their safety, and encouraged them to play on for the sake of “humanity”.

The breaches to the bio-secure bubbles of the teams, though, led to the decision to be taken to suspend the competition.

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL,” an IPL statement read.

“This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind.

“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.”

Updated: May 4, 2021 09:20 PM

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