“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) situation.
“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,” read an official statement from the BCCI, confirming the delay.
The clash between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings was originally supposed to take place on 29 March at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The match was to be followed by Delhi Capitals hosting Kings XI Punjab at the Arun Jaitley Stadium the following day, with Royal Challengers Bangalore taking on Kolkata Knight Riders in Bengaluru on 31 March.
“The BCCI will work closely with the Government of India along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and all other relevant Central and State Government departments in this regard,” added the BCCI release.
India has recorded more than 70 cases of the virus so far, with its first COVID-19-related death taking place in Kalburgi, Karnataka on Thursday. The Delhi government has meanwhile declared an epidemic and has placed a ban on the functioning of schools and colleges (except the ones where examinations are taking place), cinema halls till 31 March. The governments of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have also taken similar steps in the wake of the outbreak, with Odisha declaring it a ‘disaster’.
Things took a turn for the worse after the World Health Organisation (WHO) elevated the COVID-19 epidemic to a ‘pandemic’, which set off the alarm bells in the world of sports, especially in North America and Europe. Some of the other major events that have been canceled are the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.
Tournaments such as the LaLiga and the NBA have had their matches suspended, while the next set of Round of 16 matches in the UEFA Champions League has been postponed. The next set of India-South ODIs at Lucknow and Kolkata will take place in empty stands, as is the case with the ongoing one-dayer between Australia and New Zealand in Sydney.